AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF ABROGATION (NASKH) IN ISLAMIC LAW

AN ANALYSIS OF THE CONCEPT OF ABROGATION (NASKH) IN ISLAMIC LAW

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ABSTRACT

Abrogation is generally aimed at bringing about what will be of general good to mankind. In abrogation, an existing legal ruling is replaced with another better or similar ruling. However, there have been efforts by some modernists such as Abdullahi Saeed to reinterpret some texts of the Qur’an under the guise of abrogation. This in itself represents an attempt to render some provisions of Islamic Law obsolete and or impotent. This research work therefore examines in details the extent to which abrogation is allowed in Islamic Law and whether or not abrogation can be an ongoing process? At the end of it was found that abrogation can only be applicable within the context of Qur’an and Sunnah and that abrogation cannot be an ongoing process. The research work gave recommendations which include reference to the understanding of Companions of the Prophet (S.AW) in interpreting the texts of the Qur’an. The provisions of Islamic Law are adequate enough to address societal needs at all times without necessarily reinterpreting some texts the Qur’an.

 CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1       Introduction

Abrogation in Islamic Law has to do with replacing an existing legal injunction with a

better one or similar.1       In abrogation, there are always two texts involved: the

abrogating (Násikh) and the abrogated (Mansúkh) texts, which are revealed at

different points in time. In fact, the abrogating text (Násikh) comes after the abrogated

text (Mansúkh).2 Both the abrogating and the abrogated ruling must deal with the same

subject matter.

Abrogation implies that the application of the first ruling has been completely

replaced. This is one of the differences between the concept of abrogation and another

similar concept known as Takhsís (Particularisation). “Particularisation” involves a

situation where a text limits or restricts the application of a general ruling found in

another text.3

Abrogation in Islamic Law is only related to legal rulings, and not belief. In other

words, abrogation cannot occur with regards to belief in Allah, His names and

attributes, the Day of Judgment, and other matters related to the fundamentals of

belief.4 It is in this regard Allah (the Most High) says:

“He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which we have inspired in you (O Muhammad, S.A.W), and that We

1. Al-Bukharee,A.A.M.(1307A.H) KashfulAsraar, MaktabatusSanayi‟,Cairo. p.875. 2. Abu Zahrah, M.(1958) Usúlul Fiqh, DaarulFikrilArabiy. Beirut. p.185.

3. Qadhi, A.Y. (1999) An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur‟an, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, Birmingham. p.233.

4. Ibid. at p.233.

1


ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Iesa (Jesus) saying you should establish religion and make no division in it…”5

In abrogation, there are instances where the rulings in some texts have been abrogated

before its application. In the same vein, there are instances of abrogation where the

text containing a particular ruling ceases to remain but the ruling is continuously

applicable.

Abrogation as a concept is one of the areas of uniqueness of Islamic Law for many

reasons. One of which is to bring about “ease” in complying with Islamic injunctions.6

However, the concept of abrogation in Islamic Law has been misunderstood by some

groups such as the Shi‟ites and the Jews which has generated a lot of controversy.

Despite the lapse of fifteen hundred years since the revelation of the Qur‟an, which is

the first primary source of Islamic Law, the controversy over abrogation is as fresh

today as it might have been at its early stage.

More importantly, there have been efforts by some modern scholars to     re-interpret

some texts of the Qur‟an in an attempt to render them obsolete and or impotent under

the guise of abrogation.

This research work, therefore, seeks to show whether or not abrogation can still be an

on-ongoing process.

5. Al-Hil


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