Naskh (نسخ) is an Arabic word usually translated as \"abrogation\". In tafsir, or Islamic legal exegesis, naskh recognizes that one rule might not always be suitable for every situation. In the widely recognized and \"classic\" form of naskh, one ḥukm \"ruling\" is abrogated to introduce an exception to the general rule, but the text the ḥukm is based on is not repealed.
Some examples of Islamic rulings based on naskh include a gradual ban on consumption of alcohol (originally alcohol was not banned, but Muslims were told that the bad outweighed the good in drinking) and a change in the direction of the qibla, the direction that should be faced when praying salat (originally Muslims faced Jerusalem, but this was changed to face the Kaaba in Mecca).
Several ayat (Quranic verses) state that some revelations have been abrogated and superseded by later revelations, and narrations from Muhammad's companions mention abrogated verses or rulings of the religion. The principle of abrogation of an older verse by a new verse in the Quran, or within the hadiths is an accepted principle of all four Sunni madhāhib, or schools of fiqh, and was an established principle in Sharia by at least the 9th century. Starting in the 19th century, modernist and Islamist scholars have argued against the concept of naskh, defending the absolute validity of the Quran.
In the Arabic language naskh (Arabic: نسخ) can be defined as abolition, abolishment, abrogation, cancellation, invalidation, copying, transcription, according to the Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic.
According to non-Muslim scholar of Islam John Burton, \"no single verse\" in the Quran \"unequivocally points to the naskh of any other verse\", (nor does any \"irreproachable\" hadith identify \"any one verse as having either undergone or effected naskh\"). Islamic Modernist mufti Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) also stated \"the Quran nowhere announced that verse so-and-so is naskh, or that verse such-and-such is mansukh.\"
Many of the verses believed to indicate the principle of naskh do not contain any form of the word naskh, i.e. any word with the triconsonantal root n-s-kh. Instead, they use \"in place of\" (baddal), \"efface\" (yamhua), \"withdraw\" (nadhhabanna لَنَذْهَبَنَّ), or \"forget\" (tansha تَنسَىٰٓ) which are all interpreted to refer to the process of naskh:
Only Q.2:106 uses a form of the word naskh (specifically \"nanskh\" meaning \"we abrogate\").Although there \"are no less than a dozen\" readings/interpretations of verse Q.2:106 (according to Khaleel Mohammed citing John Burton), the \"majority of exegetes\" (scholars of the interpretation of the Quran),[Note 6] find 2:106 indicative of two varieties of abrogation (see below):
But later exegetes such as Makkī insist that since the verse was insinuated by the Devil into the Prophet's recital, and not revealed by God, that verse Q.22:52 only provides for establishes the Islamic legitimacy of the concept of naskh for satanic not divine revelation. According to the current orthodox interpretation, the verses were actually a fabrication by Quraysh tribesmen and enemies of Muhammad. However \"a number\" of classical scholars like Musa b. 'Uqbah, Ibn Ishaq, Abu Ma'shar, al-Tabari, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Mardawayh and Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalam have accepted the report about this episode as genuine\" (according to Ahmad Hasan), based on the isnad (chain of transmitters of the report), other eminent classical scholars reject the report which if it were true would mean \"that Satan could tamper with the Divine Revelation\".
Another set of Hadith emphasize how those who speak publicly on fiqh (Islamic law) without expert knowledge in naskh not only endanger their own immortal souls but also the souls of those who listening to them.
Some (John Burton) have questioned the authenticity of these hadith, finding them suspiciously convenient for proponents of naskh and especially for experts in the field. (Not only do they provide validity for the theory from \"the mouths of men believed to have known the Prophet's mind best\", but the reports specifically call for judicial or religious offices in the community to be occupied by those trained in \"this indispensable knowledge\".)
However even if these reports were later fabrications and the rules of naskh were not directly passed down from Muhammad to the Salaf Muslims, it is known that the idea that some Qur'anic verses were abrogated can be found towards the end of the first century of Islam, and the development of theories of naskh can be dated \"with certainty\" to the time of Imam Shafi'i (d.204 AH).
The principle of abrogation (without its naskh terminology) makes an early appearance in the Muwatta' of Mālik (d.179 AH/795 ) according to John Burton and Ahmad Hasan.[Note 11] At one point Malik notes that \"his teacher Zuhrī had told him that the Muslims had adopted as standard the latest of all the Prophet's reported actions\" when there is a conflict. In another chapter Mālik states that of the two conflicting Qur'an rulings, \"one had replaced the other\". Elsewhere, Mālik \"rejects the notion that a ruling remains valid despite the withdrawal\" of the (supposed) Qur'an verse the ruling is based on.[Note 12]
The \"elaboration of the theories\" of naskh can be dated with certainty to the last half of the second century of Islam, when Imam Shafi'i (d.204 AH/820), in his work Risāla, (and in the somewhat later Ikhtilāf al-Hadīth\") worked to resolve the \"apparent discrepancies between certain Qur'ānic verses and others; between certain hadith and others; and, most serious of all, between certain Qur'ānic verses and certain hadīths\", according to John Burton. Ibrahim al-Nakha'i (d. 96/714) is reported to have said that verse Q.5:106 was abrogated[Note 13] Naskh as \"a technical term meaning 'abrogation'\" was used \"early on in exegesis, for example, in Muqātil's [d. 149-150] Khams mi'a āya and his tafsīr. \"'Ilm al-Nasikh wa'l-Mansukh\" (Knowledge of the Abrogating and Abrogated) became one of the Islamic sciences.
A \"celebrated icon\" of deniers and rejecters of naskh was the fourth-century Hijri scholar, Abu Muslim al-Isfahani, who was very much in the minority and whose work on naskh Jami'al-Ta'wil (al-Amidi, al-Ihkam, v.3, 115), has been lost to history. But \"concentrated criticism of the abrogation concept only started in the latter part\" of the nineteenth century, according to Khaleel Mohammad. According to Karel Steenbrink, \"most\" of the modernist or reformist scholars of that era (Muhammad Abduh, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and Rashid Rida), considered the theory of abrogation of the Quran invalid. Muhammad al-Ghazali, writing in 1992, stated
\"the position taken by all the modern scholars whom I have met, or listened to, or whose works I have read, is contrary to the understanding of naskh that became so widespread among the later exegetes, namely that there exists naskh (if accepted) as meaning the abrogation of verses of the Qur'an.\"
Skeptics such as Ali Dashti found the naskh process suspiciously similar to the human process of \"revising ... past decisions or plans\" after \"learning from experience and recognising mistakes\". When the Quran defends abrogation/naskh against those who scoffed at it (\"Do not you know that Allah over every thing\" Q.2:106; \"they say, \"Thou art but a forger\" ... Allah knows best what He reveals\" Q.16:101), Dashti asks if the \"scoffers\" were suspicious \"precisely because God is capable of everything\", and so would have no need to abrogate a verse after revealing it.
The \"classical\" and oft cited example of how naskh was used in stages to guide a major change in the behavior of the faithful was the banning of alcohol, implemented in three verses. It has been described as an act of wisdom, needed because an abrupt total ban would have been too harsh and impractical. \"Arab society in the beginning was not ready to abandon drinking alcohol. They needed to strengthen their faith in order to overcome their desire to drink.\"
Two verses Imam Al-Shafi'i cites as \"the clearest evidence\" for naskh concern the number of enemies each Muslim warrior is expected to vanquish. (Unlike with those concerning alcohol, the abrogating verse is more lenient not more strict.)A verse calling for overcoming ten unbelievers
This abrogation has been called a \"'classic' instance\" of the \"'classic' mode\" of naskh by Usulis (i.e. students/scholars of the principles of fiqh) that 'proves' \"the fact of Naskh\". It (is thought to have) shortened the `iddah, i.e. the waiting period for widows (also divorcees, but these verses refer only to widows) before re-marriage, from one year ....
But Q.2:240 makes no mention of a waiting period before marriage, but only financial provisions (\"maintenance and residence\", aka matāʿ) for widows. And other scholars say it wasn't abrogated since Q.2:234 is about the mandatory mourning period for a woman without remarrying after her husband dies while Q.2:240 is that inheritors don't force her out of her husband's house for a year unless she wanted to leave, which is why it says \"then no blame on the guardians\". This did conflict with \"the details of the rules to govern inheritances laboriously worked out in the fiqh\", (according to non-Muslim critic and scholar John Burton). Burton argues that protecting established fiqh rulings from the contradiction of Quranic verses such as Q.2:240 (and not addressing conflicts between different lines of revelation) was what motivated the usulis who developed the theory of naskh. 1e1e36bf2d