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The Abrogating and Abrogated verses in the Quran


The revelations from Allah as found in the Qur'an touch on a variety of subjects, among them are beliefs, history, tales of the prophets, Day of Judgment, Paradise and Hell, and many others. Particularly important are the ahkam (legal rulings), because they prescribe the manner of legal relationships between people, as Allah wishes them to be observed.

While the basic message of Islam remains always the same, the legal rulings have varied throughout the ages, and many prophets before Muhammad brought particular codes of law (shari'a) for their respective communities.

The word nasikh (an active participle) means 'the abrogating', while mansukh (passive) means 'the abrogated'. In technical language these terms refer to certain parts of the Qur'anic revelation, which have been 'abrogated' by others. Naturally the abrogated passage is the one called 'mansukh' while the abrogating one is called 'nasikh'.

The Qur'an on Naskh (Abrogation):

The principle of naskh (abrogation) is referred to in the Qur'an itself and is not a later historical development:

Allah the Most High said:

 ﭽ   ﭒ  ﭓ  ﭔ  ﭕ  ﭖ  ﭗ  ﭘ  ﭙ  ﭚ  ﭛ  ﭜ   ﭞ  ﭟ  ﭠ  ﭡ  ﭢ  ﭣ     ﭤ  ﭥ  ﭦ 

Meaning: “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause it to be forgotten, but We substitute it with something better or similar. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?” (Q2: V106).

When the message of Islam was presented to the Arabs as something new, and different from their way of life, it was introduced in stages. The Qur'an brought important changes gradually, to allow the people to adjust to the new prescriptions.


There are three verses in the Qur'an concerning the drinking of wine. Wine drinking was very widespread in pre-Islamic times and, although a social evil, highly esteemed. The three verses which finally led to the prohibition of intoxicants were revealed in stages.

First was the saying of Allah:

 ﮣ  ﮤ  ﮥ  ﮦ  ﮧ  ﮨ    ﮩ  ﮪ  ﮫ  ﮬ  ﮭ  ﮮ      

Meaning: “O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying…” (Q4:V43).

The second stage was the saying of Allah:

 ﭽ   ﯣ  ﯤ  ﯥ   ﯦ  ﯨ  ﯩ  ﯪ         ﯫ  ﯬ  ﯭ  ﯮ   ﯯ   ﯰ  ﯱ    

Meaning: “They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.” (Q2:V219).

The third stage was the saying of Allah:

 ﭽ ﭑ  ﭒ  ﭓ  ﭔ  ﭕ       ﭖ  ﭗ  ﭘ  ﭙ   ﭚ  ﭛ  ﭜ  ﭝ  ﭞ  ﭟ  ﭠ  ﭡ  ﭢ    ﭣ  ﭤ  ﭥ  ﭦ  ﭧ  ﭨ  ﭩ  ﭪ   ﭫ   ﭬ  ﭭ  ﭮ   ﭯ  ﭰ  ﭱ  ﭳ  ﭴ   ﭵ  ﭶ 

Meaning: “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Q5:V90-91)

The scholars have divided abrogation in the Qur’an into three kinds:

  • Abrogation of the recited (verse) together with the legal ruling.
  • Abrogation of the legal ruling without the recited (verse).
  • Abrogation of the recited (verse) without the legal ruling.


For abrogation of the recited (verse) together with its legal ruling:

  • 'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that it had been revealed in the Holy Qur'an that ten clear suckling make marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five suckling and Allah's apostle (may peace be upon him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Holy Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims). [Reported by Muslim: No. 3421.]

For abrogation of a legal ruling without the recited (verse):

  • Allah says:

 ﭑ  ﭒ  ﭓ  ﭔ  ﭕ  ﭖ  ﭗ  ﭘ  ﭙ   ﭚ   ﭛ  ﭝ  ﭞ  ﭟ  ﭠ  ﭢ  ﭣ  ﭤ   ﭥ  ﭦ  ﭧ  ﭨ   ﭩ 

  • Meaning: “O you who have believed, when you [wish to] privately consult the Messenger, present before your consultation a charity. That is better for you and purer. But if you find not [the means] - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Q58:V12). This was abrogated by the next verse:
  • :ﭪ  ﭫ  ﭬ  ﭭ  ﭮ
  •   ﭯ   ﭰ  ﭲ  ﭳ  ﭴ         ﭵ  ﭶ  ﭷ  ﭸ  ﭹ  ﭺ  ﭻ  ﭼ  ﭽ   ﭾﭿ  ﮀ  ﮁ  ﮂ    ﮃ  ﮄ 

Meaning: “Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you do not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Q58:V13)

For abrogation of the recited (verse) without the legal ruling:

  • 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas reported that 'Umar bin Khattab sat on the pulpit of Allah's messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: Verily Allah sent Muhammad (May peace be upon him) with truth and he sent down the book upon him, and the verse of stoning was included in what was sent down to him. We recited it, retained it in our memory and understood it. Allah's messenger (may peace be upon him) executed the punishment of stoning to death (on the married adulterer and adulteress) and after him, we also executed the punishment of stoning. I am afraid that with the lapse of time, the people (may forget it) and may say: We do not find the punishment of stoning in the book of Allah, and thus go astray by abandoning this duty prescribed by Allah. Stoning is a duty laid down in Allah's book for married men and women who commit adultery when proof is established, or if there is pregnancy or a confession. [Reported by Bukhari: No. 816 and Muslim: No. 4194]
  • The punishment of stoning for adultery by married people has been retained in the Sunnah, while it is no more recited in the Qur'an.

Scholars say that there are three ways of knowing about the abrogating and abrogated verses in the Quran:

  • Report from the Prophet or Companions.
  • Ijma' (consensus of the scholars upon which verse is abrogating and which one is abrogated).
  • Knowledge about which part of the Qur'an preceded another part in the history of revelation.


Source: Abridged from Sunipath.com




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