Let Me Rephrase That!
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One Abrogating One
A one-to-one replacement is the simplest form of abrogation; one revealed truth is fully or partially replaced by another.
Charity Becomes Compulsory
2:2 This is the Book which cannot be doubted and is a guidance to the God-fearing.
2:3 Those who believe in the Unseen, perform the prayer and give freely from what We provided for them.
9:103 Take of their wealth voluntary alms to purify and cleanse them therewith; and pray for them, for your prayers are a source of tranquility for them. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
The "voluntary alms", whose amount Allah decreed is to be determined and collected by His spokesman, became 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.
God had, in effect, elevated charitable donations to the equivalent of protection money, a form of extortion where the threat of bodily harm or death figures prominently.
When the tribe of the Bani al-Mustaliq embraced Islam, the Holy Prophet sent Walid bin Uqbah to collect the zakat from them. When he arrived in their territory, he became scared due to some reason and without visiting the people of the tribe returned to Madinah and complained to the Holy Prophet that they had refused to pay the zakat and had even wanted to kill him.
On hearing this, the Holy Prophet became very angry and he made up his mind to dispatch a contingent to punish those people.
In the meantime the chief of the Bani al-Mustaliq, Harith bin Dirar (father of Juwairiyah, wife of the Holy Prophet), arrived at the head of a deputation, and submitted: "By God, we did not at all see Walid; therefore, there could be no question of refusing to pay the zakat and wanting to kill him. We are steadfast to the Faith and have no intention to withhold the zakat."
Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an 49.6-8
All Zakat collected was taken directly to Muhammad who counted it and branded what had been paid in livestock, the most common currency in which the obligatory charity was paid.
Narrated Abu Humaid Al-Sa'idi:
Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) appointed a man called Ibn Al-Lutbiya, from the tribe of Al-Asd to collect Zakat from Bani Sulaim. When he returned, (after collecting the Zakat) the Prophet checked the account with him.
Bin Malik took 'Abdullah bin Abu Talha to Allah's Apostle to perform Tahnik for him. (Tahnik was a custom among the Muslims that whenever a child was born they used to take it to the Prophet who would chew a piece of date and put a part of its juice in the child's mouth).
I saw the Prophet and he had an instrument for branding in his hands and was branding the camels of zakat.
The changing of charity from a voluntary contribution to a compulsory one was undoubtedly responsible for the shedding of more Arab blood following Muhammad’s passing.
After his death, most Arab tribes who had converted to Islam wanted to remain Muslim, but objected to paying the Zakat to Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s successor as leader of the believers. Had God not said that this money was to be collected by His spokesman and no one else? “Take of their wealth voluntary alms to purify and cleanse them therewith.”
Bakr would have none of it, and deemed any Muslim who refused to pay the Zakat to have apostatized, declaring war on the tribes that refused to pay up along with the few that actually apostatized.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
When Allah's Apostle died and Abu Bakr became the caliph some Arabs renegade[d] (reverted to disbelief) [and] (Abu Bakr decided to declare war against them)[.]
Umar, said to Abu Bakr, "How can you fight with these people although Allah's Apostle said, 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespassing the law (rights and conditions for which he will be punished justly), and his accounts will be with Allah.""
Abu Bakr said, "By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and the Zakat as Zakat is the compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah's orders) By Allah! If they refuse to pay me even a she-kid which they used to pay at the time of Allah's Apostle. I would fight with them for withholding it."
Then Umar said, "By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah opened Abu Bakr's chest towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that his decision was right."
The War of the Apostates is mostly a convenient misnomer for the bloodbath that followed Muhammad’s death with the aim to make the payment of the obligatory charity a permanent fixture of Islam.
No More Mr. Nice Guy I
Once-upon-a-time, Allah was much more tolerant of other religions.
2:62 The believers (Muslims), the Jews, the Christians and the Sabians – whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is good, shall receive their reward from their Lord. They shall have nothing to fear and they shall not grieve.
3:85 Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.
A Change of Direction
In Medina lived three Jewish tribes along with two large Arab tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj. These two tribes had already converted to Islam and had pledged loyalty in a secret undertaking known as the Second Pledge of al-Aqaba (also referred to as the Pledge of War), which committed them to fight the enemies of God and His spokesman.
The Jews joined the Arab tribes of Medina in welcoming Muhammad, in part because he preached that the god of the Old Testament was the one and only God and that he believed in the prophets of the Torah. He could also be expected to be an informed and fair mediator between all the tribes, a role which was formally recognized in a document known as the Constitution of Medina (or Charter of Medina). The agreement, in effect, created a multi-religious Islamic state in Medina, probably a historical first.
The Jews and Muhammad got along like a house on fire until it became evident to God’s latest spokesperson that the Jews would never recognize him as a legitimate channel between the Almighty and mere mortals, that honour being reserved for the Chosen People.
The rift that developed between them was deep and the consequences are being felt to this day. (Recommended reading: Jihad in the Koran, Boreal Books, The Jews of Medina, The Massacre of the Banu Qurayzah)
Before Muhammad's falling out with the Jews of Medina, the believers prostrated themselves in the direction of Jerusalem, not Mecca, during their daily prayers. Before the breakup, Allah did not care in which direction you prayed; He was everywhere, after all.
2:115 To Allah belongs the East and the West. So whichever way you turn (while praying), there is Allah’s Face. Indeed Allah is Omnipresent and Omniscient.
2:144 Surely, We see your face turned towards heaven (yearning for guidance through revelation). We shall turn you towards a Qibla that will please you. Turn your face then towards the Sacred Mosque (the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, the Ka’ba); and wherever you are turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Book (the Jews and Christians) certainly know this to be the Truth from their Lord. Allah is not unaware of what they do.
Safa, Marwa and the Religion of Abraham
The entire Hajj ritual is an attempt to recreate the rite Abraham is alleged to have performed to honour God when he visited Mecca and laid the foundation of His Ka'ba.
2:125 And [remember] when We made the House (the Ka`ba) a place of residence for mankind and a haven [saying]: “Make of Abraham’s maqam [stand] a place for prayer.” We enjoined Abraham and Isma`il [saying]: “Purify My House for those who circle it, for those who retreat there for meditation, and for those who kneel and prostrate themselves (perform the prayers).”
2:126 And when Abraham said: “My Lord make this a secure city and feed with fruits those of its inhabitants who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” Allah (having accepted Abraham’s prayer) said: “As for those who disbelieve, I shall provide for them for a while (in this life), and then subject them to the scourge of the Fire, and what an abominable fate!”
2:127 And while Abraham and Isma`il raised the foundations of the House, [they prayed]: “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Surely you are the All-Hearing, the Omniscient.”
If the Islamic tradition—that Adam set up the original altar at Mecca using the stone he brought with him from Paradise—has any connection with reality, then people were already circling the Ka`ba when Abraham and Isma'il showed up. The tradition falls down a bit if we give “raised the foundations” in Revelation 2:127 its ordinary, everyday meaning.
Recommended reading: Shared Prophets, Boreal Books, Abraham at Mecca
Over time, Allah was joined at the Ka'ba by other gods, the so-called idols, which caused the one-and-only God some distress.
During the so-called pagan interlude, the one-and-only God had to share his Ka'ba with other gods and goddesses. The pagans also introduced new rituals such as going around the Ka'ba naked, probably after having more than a few sips of wine, and ribald poetry competitions within the sacred precinct. Bowing up and down as you circled the sacred stone, the one Adam is said to have grabbed onto when he was thrown out of Paradise, had become more of a song and dance than a sacred rite.
Abraham's somber pilgrimage had taken on the aspect of a festival of fun and worship. God’s spokesman 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, the two hills near Mecca, looking for water after being abandoned there by Abraham with his son Isma`il. (Recommended reading: Shared Prophets, Boreal Books, Isma`il)
Adding to the believers' uneasiness, the pagans had placed idols on the hills. Muhammad had the idols destroyed and Allah sent a revelation, verse 2:158, assuring the believers that re-enacting Hagar's desperate search for water was not a sin.
There undoubtedly were other questions about emulating the believers of old, which God dismissed in a brilliantly formulated revelation whereby He assures believers that if the ritual was good enough for Abraham, it was good enough for them, Revelation 2:130, which effectively made Revelation 2:158 redundant.
2:158 Surely Safa and Marwa are beacons of Allah (His Religion). He who performs the proper or the lesser pilgrimage commits no sin if he goes around them. And those who volunteer to do a good deed will find Allah Rewarding, All-Knowing.
2:130 And who would forsake the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself? We have chosen him in this world and in the Hereafter; he shall be one of the righteous.
From Curser to Pardoner of Jews
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 and adulteresses.Muhammad, as the man with the last word under the Constitution of Medina, would have none of it. He literally ruled by the Book, whether that book was the Koran or the Torah.
He was assisted in applying Jewish religious law by a Jew by the name of bin Salem who had converted to Islam. 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 Muhammad where God’s spokesman 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 Muhammad 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 earned a mention in the Koran, Muhammad forced the Jews to stick to the old ways, many of which became the new 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 conceal from His spokesman infuriated God, perhaps only for a moment, as is evident in Revelation 2:159. Revelation 2:160 does not so much annul Revelation 2:159 as attenuate Allah's anger against the Jews, if only for the time being.
2:159 Those (the Jews) who conceal the clear proofs and guidance We sent down, after making them clear to mankind in the Book (the Torah), shall be cursed by Allah and the cursers.
2:160 Except those who repent, mend their ways and reveal [the truth which they had concealed]; these I shall pardon. I am the Pardoner, the Merciful.
Providing for a Widow
In the following abrogating revelation, having the deceased leave a year's provision to his widows is welcomed; it helps them stand in good staid when they are forced to leave their deceased husband's home (Islamic law recognizes the husband as the sole proprietor of the family home) and his relatives move in.
2:234 As for those of you who die leaving wives behind, their wives should observe a waiting period (during this period they should stay away from men) of four months and ten days. When they have completed that period you incur no offence on account of what they may do to themselves (such as adorning themselves or looking out for suitors) in a lawful manner. Allah has knowledge of what you do.
2:240 Those of you who die leaving wives behind should bequeath to them a year’s provision without turning [them] out (from their homes). If however, they leave [their homes], then you (the relatives of the dead) incur no offence for what they do in a rightful way to themselves. Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Dying a Muslim by Doing What a Muslim 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, which God sent to replace Revelation 3:102, you will die a believer, making the revealed truth it replaces unnecessary.
3:102 O believers fear Allah as He should be feared, and do not die except as Muslims.
64:16 So, fear Allah as much as you can, listen, obey and spend freely (in the Cause of Allah). That is best for you. He who is guarded against the avarice of his soul – those are the prosperous.
No More Mr. Nice Guy II
There was a time when Allah would have forgiven a heretic who returned to the fold, if asked to do so by His current or former spokespersons.
4:64 We have not sent forth a Messenger, but that he may be obeyed by Allah’s Leave. And had they, having wronged themselves, come to you and asked for Allah’s Forgiveness and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, then they would have found Allah All-Forgiving, Merciful.
9:80 Ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them; because they disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger. Allah does not guide the sinful people.
The last unbelievers God would forgive were Muhammad’s mother Amina and father Abdullah. He spared them the torments of Hell after seeing His favourite spokesman weeping over the tomb of his mother at Medina. When asked by people who were near him at the time why he was crying, Muhammad replied that it was because he had just seen his parents burning in Hell. Allah would bring both his mother and father back to life temporarily so that they could become Muslim and enter Paradise.
Indoctrination and War
As the believers made progress in subjugating the non-Muslims of the Peninsula and more warriors joined them, if only to indulge in the general plunder of the property of slaughtered unbelievers, indoctrination of new recruits into the religion took on a new urgency.
4:71 O believers, be on your guard; so march in detachments or march altogether.
9:122 The believers should not all go to war. Why doesn’t a company from each group go forth to instruct themselves in religion and admonish their people (those who go to war) when they return, that perchance, they may beware.
God expected some of the believers to stay behind for another strategic reason, anticipating a tactic used in modern propaganda wars: that of spreading misinformation, 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.”
A Blood-Money Conundrum I
Muhammad’s grandfather Abd al-Muttalib, in another variation of the story of Abraham and the thwarted immolation, promised Allah that he would 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 whether he could fulfil his promise to God in some manner other than killing his tenth son, Abdullah, who was destined to become Muhammad’s father.
The dervish al-Muttalib consulted was no ordinary soothsayer; he was a dervish with jinns in his employ, jinns who specialized in eavesdropping on God’s conversations with his angels and on the angels talking amongst themselves. They would fly as close as possible to the lowest of the seven levels of heaven, the one closest to the earth, dodging rocks (what we know as meteors) thrown by the angels to keep them away, to find out what Allah had to say about what was happening down below.
Of all the characters of the Koran, jinns (God refers to them collectively as the jinn) are the most fascinating. They are Allah’s most versatile and mischievous creation. There is even a chapter of the Koran named after them, Surah 72. The caricature of the genie is undoubtedly based on this creature of the Koran. (Recommended reading: Getting to Know Allah, Boreal Books, The Jinn)
To try to answer his client’s question, the dervish sent his jinns to eavesdrop on God’s conversations. One reported that Allah 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) to divine an answer. In his assessment of the way the fragments scattered, the dervish surmised that God would be satisfied with a payment of one hundred camels. This is the price of a human life, as Muhammad reminded his audience the last time he preached to a large gathering of the faithful.
The second most important document in Islam after the Koran is probably the Prophet’s Farewell Khutba, his farewell sermon. In his last sermon, delivered on Mount Arafat outside Mecca a few months before he died, God’s spokesman summarized all the basic beliefs of Islam and all the duties of a Muslim. English translations will usually run less than 1,300 words. In this keynote address, Muhammad reminded the assembled about the price of a human life.
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.
Translated by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah [1908-2002)
(Recommended reading: From Merchant to Messenger, Boreal Books, The Prophet's Last Sermon)
What part of Revelation 4:92 is abrogated by Revelation 9:1, we cannot say with certainty, but we can be sure it is not the portion about blood-money.
4:92 It is not given to a believer to kill another believer except by mistake; and he who kills a believer by mistake should free a slave who is a believer and pay blood-money to his relatives, unless they remit it as alms. If he happens to belong to a people who are your enemies, but he is a believer, then you should free a believing slave. If he belongs to a people bound to you by compact, then blood-money should be paid to his relatives and a believing slave should be freed. As for him who has not the means, he should fast for two consecutive months, as a penance from Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, Wise!
9:1 This is immunity from Allah and His Messenger to those idolaters with whom you made compacts.
From Killing Ten to Killing Two
When Allah said that one believer could overcome ten armed unbelievers, battles were still decided in man-to-man combat with swords and spears. It was extremely unrealistic to expect one believer to triumph over ten unbelievers bent on making him a martyr. Today, a believer with a bomb can easily slaughter ten unbelievers.
Knowing the future and the accompanying improvements 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 God revise downward His per capita estimate as to how many unbelievers a believer could kill? Had He stuck to His original estimate, Allah might today be considered both a god and a visionary by more than the credulous.
8:65 O Prophet, urge the believers to fight. If there are twenty steadfast men among you, they will defeat two hundred; and if there are a hundred, they will defeat a thousand of the unbelievers, because they are a people who do not understand.
8:66 Now Allah has lightened your burden; He knows that there is a weakness in you. So, if there are a hundred steadfast men among you, they will overcome two hundred; and if there are a thousand men among you, they will overcome two thousand, by Allah’s Leave. Allah is with the steadfast.
16:67 And from the fruits of palms and vines, you get wine and fair provision. Surely, there is in that a sign to a people who understand.
5:90 O believers, wine, gambling, idols and divining arrows are an abomination of the Devil’s doing; so avoid them that perchance you may prosper!
God’s change of heart concerning alcoholic beverages may have had something to with believers at the battle of Uhud ignoring Muhammad’s instruction not to be distracted by the booty—in this instance, Meccan females loitering by a caravan—until the battle was won. His archers ignored his warning, and the battle was lost.
I used to offer alcoholic drinks to the people at the residence of Abu Talha. Then the order of prohibiting alcoholic drinks was revealed, and the Prophet ordered somebody to announce that.
Abu Talha said to me, "Go out and see what this voice (this announcement) is."
I went out and (on coming back) said, "This is somebody announcing that alcoholic beverages have been prohibited."
Abu Talha said to me, "Go and spill it (i.e. the wine),"
Then it (alcoholic drinks) was seen flowing through the streets of Medina. At that time the wine was Al-Fadikh.
The people said, "Some people (Muslims) were killed (during the battle of Uhud) while wine was in their stomachs."
So Allah revealed: "On those who believe and do good deeds there is no blame for what they ate (in the past)." (5:93)
(Recommended reading: Jihad in Koran, Boreal Books, Battle of Uhud)
Entering a House Other Than Your Own
God must have realized that demanding that one always ask permission to enter a house other than one’s own was not realistic. What about an empty house which circumstances require one to enter?
24:27 O believers, do not enter houses other than your own before you ask leave and greet their occupants. This is better for you, that perchance you may remember well.
24:29 It is no offence for you to enter uninhabited houses in which you have some means of enjoyment. Allah knows what you reveal and what you conceal.
Marriage is Good, Adultery Bad
24:3 The adulterer shall marry none but an adulteress or an idolatress; and the adulteress none shall marry her but an adulterer or idolater. That has been forbidden the believers.
24:32 Encourage the unmarried among you and the righteous among your servants and maids to marry. If they are poor, Allah will enrich them from His Bounty. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.
How scholars determined that a revelation where God expresses a fondness for married couples abrogates a revelation about who adulterers and adulteresses may marry is a mystery to me. I suspect it may have had something to do with getting rid of an inconvenient revelation that left too many questions unanswered. For example, where would one find idolaters to marry when they are to be killed on the spot if they refuse to become Muslim?
9:5 Then, when the Sacred Months (these are the four months during which war was prohibited in pre-Islamic times) are over, kill the idolaters wherever you find them…
What about an adulteress wife’s dowry, referred to as “what you have given them” in the following revelation? Can her husband withhold it and force her to ransom herself to conform to Allah’s injunction as to whom she can marry?
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. .
From Whipping to Pardoning Slanderers of Chaste Women
24:4 Those who accuse chaste women, then cannot bring four witnesses, whip them eighty lashes, and do not ever accept their testimony. For those are the wicked sinners.
24:5 Except for those who repent afterwards and mend their ways. For Allah is surely All-Forgiving, Merciful.
Revelation 24:4 was probably sent in the heat of the moment, the heat being generated by accusations that Muhammad'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. (Recommended reading: 1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, Boreal Books, Aisha: The Necklace)
Needless to say, the rumours, which severely distressed God's mouthpiece, ran rampant, prompting Allah to issue a warning to those who would slander the wife of His cherished spokesperson.
You may ignore the fact that the abrogated and abrogating verses came after Allah's tirade, shown in the following verse, 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.
Muhammad's son-in-law and future caliph, Ali, even suggested that Aisha be stoned, telling his father-in-law, “Allah has not placed any limits on the choice of a wife. They are plentiful.”
After God calmed down, perhaps after realizing that He may have just condemned Ali, not just to a whipping but to burn in Hell, Allah told the angel Gabriel to inform His spokesman that, on second thought, if an accuser of chaste women repents, all will be forgiven. (Recommended reading: Women and the Koran, Boreal Books, A Child Bride’s Indiscretion)
An Old Woman’s Finery
When you spot a middle-aged or older female believer going about her business draped in that dark tent-like garment, she is simply complying with God's recommendation "that to refrain" from removing cumbersome layers of clothing is better, even if no finery is exhibited. For women who are still young enough to bear children, there is no leeway.
Revelation 24:60 is not so much a verse that abrogates, but one that makes an exception for women of a certain age.
24:31 And tell the believing women to cast down their eyes and guard their private parts and not show their finery, except the outward part of it. And let them drape their bosoms with their veils and not show their finery, except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, their women, their maid-servants, the men-followers who have no sexual desire, or infants who have no knowledge of women’s sexual parts yet. Let them, also, not stamp their feet, so that what they have concealed of their finery might be known. Repent to Allah, all of you, O believers, that perchance you may prosper.
24:60 Those women who are past child-bearing and have no hope of marriage are not at fault if they take off their outer garments, not exhibiting any finery; but to refrain is better for them. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
Slave-Girls and Children Close By and You're Naked
24:58 O believers, let those your right hands possess (slaves and maid-servants) and those who have not reached the age of puberty ask your leave three times: (to attend to you or approach you) before the dawn prayer, when you put off your clothes at noon and after the evening prayer. These are three occasions of nudity for you; after which you are or they are not at fault, if you approach each other. That is how Allah makes clear His signs to you. Allah is All-Knowing, Wise.
24:59 And when your children reach puberty, let them ask leave, as those who came before them asked leave. That is how Allah makes clear His Signs to you. Allah is All-Knowing, Wise.
Since slave-girls are there to do with as you please, there is no prerequisite for them to have seen you naked three times before you can do more than just leer at them. As to pre-pubescent children, that is another matter—one which God may have wanted to clear up quickly through abrogating Revelation 25:59.
Wives for the Messenger
Pre-Islamic Arabs made no distinction between adopted and natural- born sons until God decreed a distinction so that Muhammad 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.
Allah’s spokesman 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. God quickly confirmed the righteousness of Zayd divorcing his wife so that his father-in-law could marry her.
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.
If there is a revelation that encapsulates Allah’s view of women, this is it! But I digress.
Even Aisha was taken aback, telling her husband that when it came to his sex life: "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires" (Bukhari 60.675). This may have been the common sentiment for Allah to send down a revelation telling His spokesman that enough is enough, Revelation 33:52.
Some of the objections may have had to do with Muhammad marrying his first cousin. In an abrogating, more expansive revelation that nullifies a higher-number immutable fact, God enumerates the daughters of close relatives whom His mouthpiece can marry.
33:51 You may defer any of them you wish, and take in any of them that you wish or any that you may have cut off. So you are not liable to reproach. For thus it is more likely that they will be delighted and will not grieve, but be content with what you have given each one of them. Allah knows what is within your hearts; and Allah is All-Knowing, Clement.
33:52 Thereafter, other women are not lawful to you, nor is substituting other wives for them, even if you admire their beauty, except for what your right hand owns. Allah is Watchful over everything.
33:50 O Prophet, we have made lawful, for you, your wives, whose dowry you have paid, what your right hand owns (slave-girls) out of the spoils of war that Allah gave you, the daughters of your paternal uncles, the daughters of your paternal aunts, the daughters of your maternal uncles, the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you, and any believing woman who gives herself freely to the Prophet, if the Prophet desires to marry her, granted exclusively to you, but not the believers. We know what We have prescribed for them regarding their wives and what their right hands own, so that you may not be at fault. Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful.
In seeking to please His spokesman when it came to whom he could have sex with, Allah did a tremendous disservice to Muslim orphan boys, a disservice felt to this day.
The revealed truths changing the relationship between adopted sons and their surrogate parent—to the equivalent of a boarder, someone to whom you provide free room and board, so that Muhammad could add his daughter-in-law and first cousin to his collection of wives, concubines and slave-girls—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 living being to call father.
God may have regretted creating orphans, where before there were only sons, so that His spokesman could satisfy his lust for his cousin and daughter-in-law, to have sent more than a handful of revelations about their welfare. .
The Prophet as Savior
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.”
39:13 Say: “I fear if I disobey my Lord, the punishment of a great Day.”
48:2 That Allah may forgive you your former and your later sins, and complete His Blessing upon you and lead you onto a straight path;
Jesus was sent to do what needed to be done so his followers would be saved, and so, it would seem, was Muhammad, though without having to die for anyone’s sins t.
They Also Carry Allah's Throne
Angels do more than just praise the Lord; they also carry His Throne, but that is not what is most notable and regrettable about abrogating revealed truth 40:7, and so many others. Early on, God’s angels were allowed to ask for forgiveness for all “those on earth”, not just “forgiveness for the believers.”
42:5 The heavens are almost rent asunder above them; while the angels proclaim the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for those on earth. Lo, Allah is truly the All-Forgiving, The Merciful!
40:7 Those who carry the Throne and those around it proclaim the praise of their Lord, believe in Him and ask forgiveness for the believers: “Lord, You have encompassed everything in mercy and knowledge; so forgive those who have repented and followed your Path, and guard them against the punishment of Hell.
Wages for the Messenger
Muhammad’s first wife was Khadijah, a wealthy older Meccan woman who hired the good-looking, allegedly illiterate trader—and later, married him (her third, his first)—to accompany her caravans to and from Damascus. Khadijah died destitute and penniless in a makeshift habitat in a ravine on the outskirts of Mecca.
After discovering Islam some fifteen years after they were married, the now forty-something Muhammad would spend all of his and his wife’s wealth on the promotion of his new religion. Khadijah would not live long enough to witness her husband triumph over his enemies, a triumph which would not have been possible without her wealth and support.
Revelation 42:23, where Muhammad expects no payment for the message he is delivering, may have been received when Khadijah was still solvent and he could therefore afford to preach for nothing.
In asking for a voluntary wage in the revealed truth that abrogates the verse about asking for no payment, Allah communicates to His spokesman to say that He will be watching. An incentive to give, if there ever was one! .
42:23 Say: (O Muhammad) “I ask you no reward for it (this message, Muhammad Assad) except kinship towards kinsmen.” Whoever performs a good deed, We shall increase its goodness. Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Thankful.
34:47 Say: “Whatever wage I asked you for is yours [to give]. My wage is with Allah and He is a witness of everything.”
The Reward of Beneficence
53:39 And that man will only earn what he strives for;
52:21 And those who have believed and their progeny followed them in belief, We shall join their progeny to them. We shall not deprive them of any of their work; every man shall be bound by what he has earned.
What believing men have earned is not only to be reunited with “their progeny” but rewarded with sexually fulfilling female facsimiles, Allah’s celebrated houris, to whom they will be joined in holy matrimony by God himself.
56:22 And wide-eyed houris,
56:23 Like hidden pearls; 56:24 As a reward for what they used to do.
44:54 Thus it will be; and we gave them wide-eyed houris in marriage.
52:20: Reclining on ranged couches, and We shall wed them to wide-eyed houris.
And blushing maidens...
55:56 Therein are maidens lowering their glances and they have not been touched, before them by any man or jinn.
55:57 So, which of your Lord's Bounties do you both (Jinn and humans) deny?
55:58 They are like rubies and coral.
55:59 So, which of your Lord's Bounties do you both (Jinn and humans) deny?
55:60 Shall the reward of beneficence be other than beneficence?
But what about women “who have followed them in belief”; what is in it for them?
This is where abrogating Revelation 52:21 comes in handy, as demonstrated in a response to a question from a prospective female martyr about the rewards a female jihadist can expect from Allah for fighting and dying to extend His dominion on Earth.
According to David Cook, such a question was asked on a Hamas website by a prospective female suicide bomber; would she get the equivalent of the male suicide bombers who are promised a “fairly extensive harem of women in return for martyrdom”?
[Question] I wanted to ask: what is the reward of a female martyr who performs a martyrdom operation; does she marry 72 of the houris?
[Answer] … the female martyr gains the same rewards as does the male, with the exception of this one aspect [the houris], so that the female martyr will be with the same husband with whom she dies. “And those who have believed and their progeny, followed them in belief. We shall join their progeny to them. We shall not deprive them of any of their work; every man shall be bound by what he has earned” [52:21]. The one who is martyred and has no husband will be married to one of the people of Paradise.
David Cook, Understanding Jihad, p.146
Abrogating Revelation 58:13 is another of those revealed truths that seem designed—his expanding choice of females being the most egregious—for Muhammad’s benefit only, with little or no relevance after he has passed. The intimidating replacement revelation, like the one strongly inviting people to pay for hearing him preach, encourages those granted a private audience to make a donation.
58:12 O believers, if you converse privately with the Messenger, then tender a free offering before your secret conversing. That is better for you and purer; but if you do not have the means, then Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful.
58:13 Do you dread to make free offerings before your private converse? If you do not do so and Allah pardons you, then perform the prayer, give the alms and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah is Aware of what you do.
Can We Be Friends?
Don’t take as friends those who fought to avoid becoming Muslim if you don’t want Allah to consider you a wrongdoer who will join them in Hell.
60:8 Allah does not forbid you, regarding those who did not fight you and did not drive you out of your homes, to be generous to them and deal with them justly. Allah surely loves the just.
60:9 Allah only forbids you, regarding those who fought you in religion and drove you out of your homes and assisted in driving you out, to take them for friends. Those who take them for friends are, indeed, the wrongdoers. Allah is Aware of what you do.
It is not only those who actively resisted becoming Muslim that God forbids you to take on as friends.
4:144 O believers, do not take the unbelievers for friends, instead of the believers. Do you wish to give Allah a clear proof against you? 5:51 O believers, do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends; some of them are friends of each other. Whoever of you takes them as friends is surely one of them. Allah indeed does not guide the wrongdoers.
It Was Not a Weighty Message After All
73:5 Indeed, We shall deliver unto you a weighty discourse.
4:28 Allah wishes to lighten your burden; for man was created weak.
Wishing Won't Make It So I
3:19 This is truly a reminder (the Qur'an); so that he who wishes may follow unto his Lord a path.
76:30 Yet, you do not wish unless Allah wishes. Allah is truly All-Knowing and Wise.
80:12 Whoever wishes will remember it (the Qur'an);
81:29 But you will not wish unless Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, wishes.
81:28 To whoever of you who wishes to reform their ways.
81:29 But you will not wish unless Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, wishes.
Mouthing the Koran Was Not Good Enough
Muhammad, or perhaps the believers, may have initially misunderstood what was being asked of them.
75:16 Do not wag your tongue with it (the Qur’an) to hurry on with it.
87:6 We shall make you recite; so you will not forget;