The Principle of Abrogation in the Quran

The trick behind the apparent inconsistency of the Quran and why the radical Muslims are always correct: Like no other holy book among the world religions, the Quran contains an abundance of contradictory expressions. What is forbidden in one place is expressly demanded in another, and vice versa. However, the contradictory quality of the Quran is only an apparent one. It falls apart abruptly when one recognizes the very carefully protected secret hidden within the architecture of the Quran. For the Quranic Suras (chapters) are not arranged chronologically, but rather according to their length – and the newer Suras (from Muhammad’s violent later phase when he was in Medina) override the older ones from his era in Mecca that were comparatively more peaceful. However, this secret is guarded by Islamic scholars very closely as if it were a holy grail – and is aired only on particular occasions.
(An Essay from Michael Mannheimer, Germany, March 23, 2010 / More>>

The Islamic doctrine of abrogation

Ibn Kathir, perhaps the Muslim world’s most popular Quran commentator, says Allah’s pardon of the unbelievers was repealed by Quran Chapter 9 and its verses of the sword

Kathir explains here (if you go there, scroll down to the bottom third of the page) that Quran 2:106, which advises Muslims to be tolerant toward unbelievers, has been canceled by verses in Quran Chapter 9 (which Muslim scholars generally agree was one of the last Quran chapters revealed). Kathir quotes part of Quran 9:5, but here’s the whole verse:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And Kathir quotes part of Quran 9:29. Again, here’s the whole verse:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad] have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth [Islam], out of those who have been given the Book [Christian and Jews], until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection [this subjection is a source of Islamic law's institution of dhimmitude, i.e., third-class legal status for non-Muslims].

Notice that 9:29 does not say “fight in self-defense.” It says “fight those who do not believe” in Islam.

On Islam and the state of subjection referred to in 9:29, read Mark Durie’s brilliant, concise, and very readable book, The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude, and Freedom.

Anyway, then Kathir says,

Allah’s pardon for the disbelievers was repealed. Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah and As-Suddi said similarly: “It [the pardon, or forgiveness] was abrogated by the Ayah [verse] of the sword.” [Quran 9:5]

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