Islamic Jihad and the Doctrine of Abrogation

By Raymond Ibrahim:

While other scriptures contain contradictions, the Qur’an is the only holy book whose commentators have evolved a doctrine to account for the very visible shifts which occur from one injunction to another. No careful reader will remain unaware of the many contradictory verses in the Qur’an, most specifically the way in which peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones. The ulema were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the Shari’a worldview—the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims till they either convert, or at least submit, to Islam (8:39, 9:5, 9:29). To get out of this quandary, the commentators developed the doctrine of abrogation, which essentially maintains that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career take precedence over earlier ones whenever there is a discrepancy. In order to document which verses abrogated which, a religious science devoted to the chronology of the Qur’an’s verses evolved (known as an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, the abrogater and the abrogated).

Koran and Sword: Hand in Hand

Koran and Sword: Hand in Hand

But why the contradiction in the first place? The standard view is that in the early years of Islam, since Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by their infidel competitors while living next to them in Mecca, a message of peace and coexistence was in order. However, after the Muslims migrated to Medina in 622 and grew in military strength, verses inciting them to go on the offensive were slowly “revealed”—in principle, sent down from God—always commensurate with Islam’s growing capabilities. In juridical texts, these are categorized in stages: passivity vis-á-vis aggression; permission to fight back against aggressors; commands to fight aggressors; commands to fight all non-Muslims, whether the latter begin aggressions or not.[1] Growing Muslim might is the only variable that explains this progressive change in policy.

Other scholars put a gloss on this by arguing that over a twenty-two year period, the Qur’an was revealed piecemeal, from passive and spiritual verses to legal prescriptions and injunctions to spread the faith through jihad and conquest, simply to acclimate early Muslim converts to the duties of Islam, lest they be discouraged at the outset by the dramatic obligations that would appear in later verses.[2] Verses revealed towards the end of Muhammad’s career—such as, “Warfare is prescribed for you though you hate it”[3]—would have been out of place when warfare was actually out of the question.

However interpreted, the standard view on Qur’anic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest). The vicissitudes of Islamic history are a testimony to this dichotomy, best captured by the popular Muslim notion, based on a hadith, that, if possible, jihad should be performed by the hand (force), if not, then by the tongue (through preaching); and, if that is not possible, then with the heart or one’s intentions.[4]

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Necessity and Obligation

Political Islam, by Bill Warner:

The answer to the demands of the Sharia is a full application of Sharia. In particular, we need to understand how necessity can abrogate obligation.

The Doctrine of Abrogation

1-1-quranarabic1by :

In the comments on Geert Wilders’ open letter to Pope Francis, a reader named MH indicated that he was unfamiliar with — or was pretending to be unfamiliar with — the Islamic doctrine of abrogation as it applies to contradictory verses within the Koran.

In a nutshell, any earlier verse of the Koran is considered “abrogated” if a later verse contradicts it. The chronology of the suras of the Koran has been well-established by a consensus of Islamic scholars, so an observant Muslim can be in no doubt as to whether any particular verse of the Koran is binding upon him under Islamic law.

Retired U.S. Army Major Stephen Coughlin is one of the foremost experts on Islamic law in the Western world. Several years ago I had the privilege of helping with the editing of material that Steve was putting together, including the following section on the Koranic basis for the doctrine of abrogation. The text below is reproduced with his permission.

The Doctrine of Abrogation
By Maj. Stephen Coughlin

At the very pinnacle of Islamic law is the Koran, which is the uncreated word of God as revealed through his Prophet.

So what is abrogation?

This is what Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee has to say about abrogation in Islamic Jurisprudence:[1]

The law was laid down in the period of the Prophet (peace be unto him) gradually and in stages. The aim was to bring a society steeped in immorality to observe the highest standards of morality. This could not be done abruptly. It was done in stages, and doing so necessitated repeal and abrogation of certain laws.

As you can see, Nyazee acknowledges that the Koran contradicts itself. Upon discovering this fact, someone who knows little about Islam might say, “The Koran contradicts itself. Doesn’t this mean it’s broken?” But anyone who takes the time to look into the scholarship will learn that is well understood in Islam that the Koran contradicts itself. This fact is explained, and taken into account. There are methods for dealing with it.

This becomes significant when non-Muslims approach a Muslim cultural expert or “moderate” to ask about certain verses of the Koran that are cited by radicals to justify their violent jihad. The cultural expert or “moderate” will respond with something like this: “You (infidel) must read from the entire body of the Koran to understand the true meaning. Those radicals cherry-pick from the back of the Koran.”

With this reply the cultural expert gives the impression that he does not agree with the radicals, but he never actually says that what they cherry-pick is wrong.

So what is the Koranic basis for the doctrine of abrogation?

It is a Qur’an which We have divided into parts from time to time, in order that thou mightest recite it to men at intervals: We have Revealed it by stages. (Qur’an 17:106)

Concerning this verse, the Qur’an commentator Yusuf Ali says:[2]

The marvel is that these parts, revealed at different times and in different circumstances, should fit together so closely and consistently as they do. All revelation is progressive. The previous revelations were also progressive. Each of them marked a stage in the world’s spiritual history. Man’s mind does not take in more than his spiritual state will have prepared him for. Allah’s revelation comes as a light to illuminate our difficulties and show us the way in actual situations that arise.

I sometimes run into very committed Christians who say, “We have progressive revelation in Christianity, too.” And my answer is: “There’s a pillar, go run your head into it!” When talking about Islamic concepts of progressive revelation, it is totally unprofessional to refer to Christian notions of progressive revelation.

Read more at Gates of Vienna


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Are There Many Islams? Or Just One?

one-or-two-islamsBy Citizen Warrior:

The following was written by Traeh Lledew, creator of the two excellent resources, A Chronological Qur’an and Quoting Islam:

Many media discussions nowadays seem to hinge on the answer to the above question.
To support the idea that there is no single Islam, some point to the varied behavior of Muslims and the contradictory aspects of the Qur’an (tolerant verses as against totalitarian verses). Other analysts claim such contradictions are resolved by the Qur’an itself, and point to the Qur’an’s own doctrine of abrogation (Qur’an 2:106 and 16:101). Thus many Muslim scholars of Islam teach that the militant and totalitarian verses produced later in Muhammad’s career abrogate (cancel) the tolerant verses produced earlier in his career. From that point of view, there are no real contradictions and in the end only one Islam, the totalitarian, final, perfected Islam.
However, Bill Warner, who runs the Center for the Study of Political Islam, balances against the doctrine of abrogation a contrary perspective: many Muslims take everything in the Qur’an as eternally true. Warner concludes that Islam is dualistic, not logically consistent. A Muslim can believe two contradictory things at once, so long as the contradiction is present in the Qur’an. From that point of view, while the doctrine of abrogation does to some extent resolve contradictions, it is simultaneously true that it doesn’t — that the whole Qur’an, including both sides of any contradictions in it, is considered by Muslims eternally true. Allah is so dictatorially all powerful that he is not bound by anything, not even logic.
But having found the Qur’an at least somewhat contradictory and dualistic, does Warner stop there? Does he claim there is no single Islam? No. That would be too imprecise an answer. Warner comes out of a scientific background, and tries to drill down into the details. He takes a statistical approach, and looks at the trilogy of core Islamic texts — Qur’an, Hadith, Sira — quantitatively, asking how much of the trilogy is tolerant and peaceful, versus how much is totalitarian and violent. He finds that the percentage of tolerant statements is quite small, of totalitarian statements quite large. So although he doesn’t say there is one Islam, he does find an overwhelmingly predominant form of Islam. For example, in the most canonical hadith collection, Sahih al-Bukhari, Warner finds that over 98% of jihad hadiths refer to violent jihad. This confirms historian Bernard Lewis’ similar contention that in the core Islamic texts, “jihad” almost always means military jihad to defend or expand Muslim power.
So Warner’s view, by getting into specifics, really goes beyond the imprecise alternatives: Islam is One/Islam is Many.
Another perspective that influences the debate about this question is what might be called the “decontructionist” view. Even if you don’t know what the philosophy of “deconstruction” is, there’s a good chance its claims have seeped to some extent into your consciousness by a sort of cultural osmosis. The deconstructionist viewpoint is that a text can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways and can mean just about anything.
The more one thinks about that claim, however, the more it seems a gross exaggeration. While texts have elasticity of meaning to varying degrees, such elasticity is hardly infinite, and that is even more true with texts that are not largely poetic or mythical in content. The Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira are full of quite literal statements and commands. Because of that, Islam’s texts and past history have virtually always steered most interpretation into fairly similar and fairly definite grooves. Islam is not whatever one wants it to be. It is a rather definite historical reality. Many years ago, the eminent historian Bernard Lewis wrote of Islam’s inherent totalitarianism.
So we should not go to the deconstructionist extreme of suggesting that anything can mean anything. While Lewis Carroll or some other fantasist might be able to treat Islam’s core texts as almost a blank slate on which one could write just about any meaning whatever, the people who most seriously and religiously approach Islam’s texts generally go by what the texts actually say. Minor ambiguities of meaning dispersed throughout those texts do not erase their clear overall thrust.
So is there one Islam? Are there many Islams? The answer is much closer to the first alternative, though the second has some validity. The bottom line is that, despite real diversity among Muslims globally, there are also overwhelming commonalities of interpretation worldwide, as numerous international polls of Muslim opinion have shown. While there are many liberal Muslims, totalitarianism, to one degree or another, is and always has been the majority interpretation. It is no accident that the core Islamic region of the world has the worst human rights record of any region on the globe: Islam’s core texts, despite some vagaries, at bottom teach an expansionist theocratic totalitarian program.


Mercy to the Guilty Is Cruelty to the Innocent

imagesCA63IVAZBy Bill Warner:

Someone wrote in reply to the “Un-Merry Christmas to the Christians from Islam” newsletter:

Oh My God. How wrong can you be? Please have more knowledge before you say anything.

Most of what you wrote about Islam is wrong. Islam has several verses which contribute to peace on earth and tolerance to all. Some people do not adhere to this and happen to be Muslim so you regard that as consensus. It’s interesting to justify your sense of Islam you bring in Boko Haram and the kidnapping of the Christian girl for blasphemy. (Your average Muslims??). I hold a degree in Islamic studies and am now studying a post grad; so I know what I am talking about. As a Christian myself I know we too have our faults in society but on no account does that represent the mass.

So you hold yourself to be an expert? Well, there are only two experts–Allah and Mohammed. Islam is found in the Koran, Sira and Hadith. Everything else is comment, including your post grad courses.

The “several verses which contribute to peace on earth and tolerance for all” in the Koran are all abrogated by later jihadic verses. The man who does not understand the use of abrogation should not comment about the Koran.

Seek critical study of source texts, not university propaganda. After you have read the Koran in the correct time order (to see the abrogation) and read the Sira by Ishaq or al Tabari and Bukhari, come back and comment. (21% of Bukhari’s hadiths are about murderous jihad.) Master the Sunna of Mohammed and then talk to us.

Look at Mohammed’s life. He preached the religion of Islam in Mecca for 13 years and got 150 Meccans to become Muslims. He moved to Medina and attacked every single neighbor he had, without exception. In his rise to absolute power he was responsible for an event of violence on the average of every 6 weeks for the last 9 years of his life. Peace on earth, what a joke!

Boko Haram jihadists follow pure Medinan Islam. You confuse Muslim-ology with the study of Islam. Start with Islam to understand Muslims. Do not start with Muslims to understand Islamic doctrine.

Another thing about those peaceful believers who make up the mass of Muslims, do you notice that they don’t condemn the murder of Christians? They are silent. Do they teach you in your post grad Islam classes that “silence is consent”?

Have you ever condemned the jihadic murder of Christians? Buddhists? Hindus? Jews? Over 270 million non-Muslims were murdered by jihad over the last 1400 years. And you speak of peace.

Christians who are silent in the face of Islamic jihad against Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu and atheists are giving consent to this brutality. There have been over 20,000 jihad attacks since 9/11. What noise are you making about that? Silence is consent.

Your apologist education has made you a deluded dhimmi. What is truly tragic is that you represent the pious pacifism of today’s Christians. You are so nice, but you are ruled by fear. It is odd how many Christians live in fear, yet Jesus told his followers, again and again, not to fear. Put down the gospel of nice and take up the Gospel of Christ and take on spiritual warfare.

Oh, and you Jews, take up the mantle of Aaron, Gideon, Deborah and David. Let the Hindus remember the Bhagavad Gita. Let the Buddhists take a lesson from Rinzai Zen.

We either stand together in this civilizational war or we will all be annihilated. See Turkey, Egypt, North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the other graveyards of Kafir civilization.

A Rational Study of Radical Islam, by Dr. Bill Warner

Dr. Bill Warner talks about Islam, Muslims, Hadith, Sira and the Koran to (Islamic Doctrine), give a better understanding of such things as dualism, the law of Islamic saturation and how it effects us, the Kafirs.

Islam: What the West needs to know (full documentary)

Through an examination of the Koran, other Islamic texts and the example of the prophet Muhammad, this documentary argues, through a sober and methodical presentation, that violence against non-Muslims is and has always been an integral aspect of Islam.
Features interviews with noted experts on Islam including Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Bar Ye’or, Abdullah Al-Araby, and former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat.

The Quran’s Doctrine of Abrogation

By Abdullah Al Araby at Islam Review:

In an attempt to polish Islam’s image, Muslim activists usually quote verses from the Quran that were written in the early days of the Islamic movement while Mohammed lived in Mecca. Those passages make Islam appear loving and harmless because they call for love, peace and patience. Such is a deception. The activists fail to tell gullible people that such verses, though still in the Quran, were nullified, abrogated, rendered void by later passages that incite killing, decapitations, maiming, terrorism and religious intolerance. The latter verses were penned while Mohammed’s headquarters was based in Medina.

When speaking with people of Christianized/Western societies, Muslim activists deliberately hide a major Islamic doctrine called “al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh” (the Abrogator and the Abrogated). This simply means that in situations wherein verses contradict one another, the early verses are overridden by the latter verses. The chronological timing in which a verse was written determines its authority to establish policies within Islam. Non-Muslims cannot afford to be ignorant about the full implications of the Abrogator and the Abrogated Doctrine (al-Nasikh wal-Mansoukh). When Islamic spokesmen say that Islam is a religion of peace and that the Quran does not support such things as human rights infractions, gender bias and terrorism, they are lying. This means that the Western politicians and liberal journalists, who continually spout that Islam is a noble religion of peace, are in reality propagating a deception that they have been deceived into parroting.

This presents problems for naïve people who are not familiar with Islam and the Quran. They don’t know that the surahs/chapters of the Quran are not arranged in chorological order in regard to the timing in which they were written. Therefore an activist who is out to deceive them can turn to various places throughout the Quran and read verses that sound peaceful, tolerant, reasonable and loving. The impression is that the entire Quran promotes peace, love, equality and tolerance for all. That is far from the truth. Most Muslims fully understand that the few Quranic verses that seemingly promote equality, peace and justice are more often than not overridden/ nullified by later verses that validate such things as terrorism and legalistic restrictions on routine human and women’s rights.

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