Excursus –The Qur’an's missing Verses and Surahs in light of of Abrogation;
In our previous discussions (*; *) we referenced various narrations which affirmed that the Qur’an is missing specific verses, clauses and chapters, and further noted that these examples could be easily multiplied. For instance, according to the following reports there used to be a verse concerning the fate of the martyrs which has since vanished:
Narrated By Anas: The people of the tribes of Ril, Dhakwan, 'Usiya and Bani Lihyan came to the Prophet and claimed that they had embraced Islam, and they requested him to support them with some men to fight their own people. The Prophet supported them with seventy men from the Ansar whom we used to call Al-Qurra' (i.e. Scholars) who (out of piety) used to cut wood during the day and pray all the night. So, those people took the (seventy) men till they reached a place called Bi'r-Ma'ana where they betrayed and martyred them. So, the Prophet invoked evil on the tribe of Ril, Dhakwan and Bani Lihyan for one month in the prayer.
Narrated Qatada: Anas told us that they (i.e. Muslims) used to recite a Qur'anic Verse concerning those martyrs which was: "O Allah! Let our people be informed on our behalf that we have met our Lord Who has got pleased with us and made us pleased." Then the Verse was cancelled. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 299)
Narrated Anas bin Malik: (The tribes of) Ril, Dhakwan, 'Usaiya and Bani Lihyan asked Allah's Apostle to provide them with some men to support them against their enemy. He therefore provided them with seventy men from the Ansar whom we used to call Al-Qurra' in their lifetime. They used to collect wood by daytime and pray at night. When they were at the well of Ma'una, the infidels killed them by betraying them. When this news reached the Prophet, he said Al-Qunut for one month In the morning prayer, invoking evil upon some of the 'Arab tribes, upon Ril, Dhakwan, 'Usaiya and Bani Libyan. We used to read a verse of the Qur'an revealed in their connection, but later the verse was cancelled. It was: "convey to our people on our behalf the information that we have met our Lord, and He is pleased with us, and has made us pleased." (Anas bin Malik added:) Allah's Prophet said Qunut for one month in the morning prayer, invoking evil upon some of the 'Arab tribes (namely), Ril, Dhakwan, Usaiya, and Bani Libyan. (Anas added:) Those seventy Ansari men were killed at the well of Mauna. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 416)
Narrated By Anas bin Malik: The Prophet invoked evil upon those (people) who killed his companions at Bir Mauna for 30 days (in the morning prayer). He invoked evil upon (tribes of) Ril, Lihyan and Usaiya who disobeyed Allah and His Apostle. Allah revealed a Qur'anic Verse to His Prophet regarding those who had been killed, i.e. the Muslims killed at Bir Ma'una, and we recited the Verse till later it was cancelled. (The Verse was:) “Inform our people that we have met our Lord, and He is pleased with us, and we are pleased with Him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5 Book 59, Number 421)
And according to this next narrative there are two missing surahs of the Qur’an:
Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari sent for the reciters of
One of the ways Muslims have tried to work around the rather clear and explicit witness of the hadiths that there are missing verses and surahs is to argue that all of these additional passages and chapters were abrogated. The Qur’an itself does mention abrogation:
When We substitute one revelation for another, - and God knows best what He reveals (in stages), - they say, "Thou art but a forger": but most of them understand not. S. 16:101
God doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book. S. 13:39
According to Islamic scholarship there are three types of abrogation, something never once stated or even alluded to in the Qur’an:
1) Abrogation of recitation.
2) Abrogation of ruling.
3) Abrogation of both ruling and recitation.
In light of this the Muslim propagandists would contend that the passages which we referred to fall under the first and third categories, which explains why they are not part of the Qur’an any longer.
Unfortunately for these dawagandists this explanation doesn’t solve the dilemma but actually raises additional problems for them to address.
First, Muslims are undecided as to how many verses have actually been abrogated or replaced:
The Abrogated Verses
There are, according to Ibn Salama, [Op cit., see pp.6-8 for the names of these suras.] a well-known author on the subject:
43 suras with neither nasikh or mansukh.
6 suras with nasikh but no mansukh.
40 suras with mansukh but no nasikh.
25 suras with both nasikh and mansukh.
According to Suyuti's Itqan there are 21 instances in the Qur'an, where a revelation has been abrogated by another.
He also indicates that there is a difference of opinion about some of these: e.g. 4: 8, 24: 58, etc. [Itqan, II, pp.20-3; Kamal, op.cit., pp.101-9 also gives Suyuti's complete list.]
Some scholars have attempted to reduce the number of abrogations in the Qur'an even further, by explaining the relationships between the verses in some special ways, e.g. by pointing out that no legal abrogation is involved, or that for certain reasons the naskh is not genuine
Shah Waliullah (d. 1759) the great Muslim scholar from India only retained the following 5 out of Suyuti's 21 cases as genuine:
Nasikh 4:11, 12
A case listed by Suyuti, which has no direct legal implication is the following:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: When the verse: 'If there are 20 amongst you, patient and persevering, they will overcome two hundred', was revealed, it became hard on the Muslims, when it became compulsory that one Muslim ought not to flee before 10 (non-Muslims) so Allah lightened the order by revealing: 'but now Allah has lightened your (task) for He knows that there is weakness in you. But (even so) if there are 100 amongst you who are patient and persevering, they will overcome 200 (non-Muslims)' (8:66).
So when Allah reduced the number of enemies that Muslims should withstand, their patience and perseverance against the enemy decreased as much as their task was lightened for them. [Bukhari, VI, No.176.]
Still others hold that there are no genuine (sahih) reports available on this issue, going back to the Prophet, while those going back to the Companions contradict each other. [Ali, M.M.: The Religion of Islam, Lahore, 1936, p.32. It may be pointed out that Ali's treatment of the subject is not very thorough. Of the three examples he cites in support of his opinion ('in most cases, where a report is traceable to one Companion who held a certain verse to have been abrogated, there is another report traceable to another Companion, through the fact that the verse was not abrogated' - p. 33) two are definitely not in his favour, while the third can be easily explained. His first case concerns Sura 2:180 (inheritance). It has certainly been superseded by other verses, e.g. 4:7-9 and that is probably all that is meant, when saying it is mansukh. Ali's second case, '2:184, is considered by Ibn 'Umar as having been abrogated while Ibn 'Abbas says it was not'. See below, where I have quoted this very hadith from Ibn 'Abbas (Bukhari, VI, No.32)where Ibn 'Abbas himself explains why he does not hold it as abrogated. The third case is, like the first one, definitely not in support of Ali: '2: 240 was abrogated according to Ibn Zubair, while Mujahid says it was not'. This is wrong, see Sahih Bukhari, VI, Nos. 53 and 54, where both Ibn Zubair and Mujahid hold the verse to be abrogated. Furthermore both Ibn Zubair and Mujahid are tabi'un, and not Companions (sahaba).]
Therefore to them the issue of nasikh wa al mansukh is perhaps not of great importance. However, it is clear from the Qur'an itself, (e.g. in the case of inheritance, 2:180; 4:7-9, etc.) that abrogation occurred occasionally. Hence it is wrong to completely ignore the subject. (Ahmad Von Denffer, Ulum al Qur’an)
This next list is adapted from Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi's, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, published by al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, Birmingham UK, Second Print 2003, Chapter 13. Abrogation in the Qur’aan:
Aboo Bakr ibn 'al-Arabee (d.
Mustafa Zayd - Accepted only 6 out of 283 cases.
Ibn al-Jawzee (d.
Ibn Hazm (d.
Makkee ibn Abee Taalib (d.
Aboo Ja'far an-Nahas (d.
Az-Zarqani - Accepted only 12 out of 22 cases.
Ash-Shanqeeti - Examined and accepted 7 possible cases as naskh.
Walee Allaah ad-Dehlawi (d.
If the Muslims were/are unsure concerning the exact number of abrogating/abrogated verses how, then, can anyone be absolutely certain that all of these missing verses are actually part of that which has been abrogated?
Second, the Qur’an claims Allah will replace abrogated texts with similar or better ones:
None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that God Hath power over all things? S. 2:106
In light of this, can the Muslim dawagandists be so kind as to point out all the verses which replaced these missing citations? Can they produce the exact list of abrogating passages for every verse or surah that has been expunged from the Qur’an?
Third, nowhere does the Qur’an say that the abrogated verses would no longer remain part of the text itself. In fact, there is not a single reference which says that Muslims were required to expunge any passage from the codex once it had been abrogated.
Moreover, we find cases where Muslims would not leave out any abrogated passage. For instance, Ubayy bin Kab refused to omit any of the verses he had heard from Muhammad even though he knew they had been abrogated!
4719. It is related from Ibn 'Abbas that 'Umar said, “Ubayy was the one of us with the best recitation, yet we leave some of the words of Ubayy. Ubayy said, ‘I took it from the mouth of the Messenger of Allah and WILL NOT LEAVE IT for anything.’ Allah Almighty says, 'Whenever We abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or equal to it.' (2:106)” (Aisha Bewley, Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 69. Book of the Virtues of the Qur'an, VIII: The reciters among the Companions of the Prophet: *; *)
See also Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan's version of Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 527.
Ubayy ibn Kab wasn’t the only one since Uthman also refused to expunge the abrogated references from his codex:
XLVII: "Those of you who die leaving wives behind" (2:240)
4262. It is related that Ibn az-Zubayr said, "I said to 'Uthman, '"Those of you who die leaving wives behind" (2:234) in al-Baqara and 'Those of you who die leaving wives behind' (2:240) were abrogated by the other ayat and so why do you write it down?' He said, 'Leave it, O nephew, I will not change ANY OF IT from its place.'" (Bewley, Sahih al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir: *; *)
See also Khan’s version of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 60.
This leads us to our fourth point. Muslims themselves acknowledge that the Qur’an still contains some of the abrogated texts. Why, then, were all of these missing verses and surahs left out when other abrogated passages were kept in?
Fifth, the doctrine of abrogation contradicts the express testimony of the Qur’an that none can change Allah’s words.
And recite what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) of the Book (the Qur'an) of your Lord (i.e. recite it, understand and follow its teachings and act on its orders and preach it to men). None can change His Words, and none will you find as a refuge other than Him. S. 18:27
According to the late Muslim scholar and Qur’anic translator Muhammad Asad this is one of the verses used by certain Muslims to refute the notion that the Qur’an abrogates itself:
“… According to Razi, it is on this passage, among others, that the great Qur’an-commentator Abu Muslim al-Isfahani based his rejection of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ discussed in my note 87 on 2:106.” (Asad, Message of the Qur’an[ Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], p. 443, fn. 35; source)
Related to the preceding is the sixth problem with this concept. Abrogation is nothing more than an expedient attempt of explaining away the major contradictions within the Qur’an. In fact, Asad himself believed that Muslims may have developed this doctrine due to their inability to satisfactorily harmonize the major discrepancies within their religious text. He writes in his footnote 87 to Q. 2:106 that:
“… The principle laid down in this passage - relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur’an - has given rise to an erroneous interpretation by many Muslim theologians. The word ayah ('message') occurring in this context is also used to denote a ‘verse’ of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been ‘abrogated’ by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion - WHICH CALLS TO MIND THE IMAGE OF A HUMAN AUTHOR CORRECTING, ON SECOND THOUGHT, THE PROOFS OF HIS MANUSCRIPT, deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been ‘abrogated’. At the root of the so-called ‘doctrine of abrogation’ MAY LIE THE INABILITY OF SOME EARLY COMMENTATORS TO RECONCILE ONE QUR'ANIC PASSAGE WITH ANOTHER; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been ‘abrogated’. This arbitrary procedure explains also why there is no unanimity whatsoever among the upholders of the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ as to which, and how many, Qur’an-verses have been affected by it; and furthermore, as to whether this alleged abrogation implies a total elimination of the verse from the context of the Qur’an, or only a cancellation of the specific ordinance or statement contained in it. In short, the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected…” (Asad, Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andalus Limited 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar rpt. 1993], pp. 22-23, n. 87; source)
Asad correctly points out that abrogation is an indication of human imperfections and weakness. Yet Asad wasn’t the only one who felt this way since the late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyya sect also rejected abrogation precisely because it violates the claim of the Qur’an that it is free from errors and discrepancies. Like Asad, Ali acknowledged that Muslims developed this concept because they were confronted with references that conflicted with one another, which they could not satisfactorily explain:
The principle on which the theory of abrogation is based is unacceptable, being contrary to the clear teachings of the Qur'an. A verse is considered to be abrogated when the two cannot be reconciled with each other; in other words, when they appear to contradict each other. But the Qur'an destroys this foundation when it declares that no part of it is at variance with another: "Will they not then meditate on the Qur'an? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (4:82). It was due to lack of meditation that one verse was thought to be at variance with another; and hence it is that in almost all cases where abrogation has been upheld by one person, there has been another who, being able to reconcile the two, has repudiated the alleged abrogation. (Ali, The Religion of Islam [The Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at Islam (Lahore) U.S.A., Eighth Edition 2005], p. 32)
Ali's candid admission shows that the Muslims who appeal to abrogation do so primarily because they are unable of reconciling the errors within the Qur’an. Abrogation therefore becomes the convenient way of explaining away these discrepancies as well as the variant corruptions to the text of the Qur’an.
Amazingly, even a Sunni scholar who accepts the doctrine of abrogation candidly admits that one of the reasons for classifying specific texts are classified as nasikh or mansukh is because they contradict one another and cannot be harmonized!
There are a number of conditions that the scholars of usool al-fiqh and 'uloom al-Qur'aan have laid down in order to substantiate any claim of naskh. One of the reasons for this is that naskh is called only as a last-resort, since the very concept of naskh implies discarding a ruling for another. As long as both rulings can be applied, naskh is not resorted to.
The more important conditions are as follows:
1) The most important condition for naskh to have occurred is that the two rulings in question must directly contradict each other, such that both rulings cannot be applied at the same time, and there exists no way to reconcile them. This is because, as just mentioned, naskh is only called as a last-resort, when there exists no other way to explain the two rulings. Therefore, if one of the rulings can apply to a specific case, and the other ruling to a different case, this cannot be considered an example of naskh. (Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, Chapter 13. Abrogation in the Qur’aan:
For more on abrogation we recommend perusing the articles found in this link.
Hence, Muslim dawagandists must face the reality that they will never know with complete certainty that what they possess in the Qur’an today is 100% identical to what Muhammad supposedly brought. Sadly for them, the massive evidence furnished by the Islamic sources proves that the Muslims do not have the entirety of what was originally transmitted.
In light of the foregoing the following statement taken from Abu Ubaid’s Kitab Fadail-al-Qur’an still stands firm!
Said Abu ‘Ubaid: Isma’il b. Ibrahim related to us from Ayyub from Nafi‘ from Ibn ‘Umar who said–Let none of you say, “I have learned the whole of the Koran,” for how does he know what the whole of it is, when much of it HAS DISAPPEARED? Let him rather say, “I have learned what is extant thereof.” (Ibn Warraq, Origins of the Koran – Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book [Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY 1998], Part Two: The Collections and the Variants of the Koran, 9. Abu ‘Ubaid on the Verses Missing from the Koran, by Arthur Jeffery, p. 151)
(1) In this article Muslim dawagandist Bassam Zawadi quotes specific authorities to prove that this particular reference doesn’t really belong to the Qur’an but is actually a Qudsi hadith, i.e., a narration from Allah reported through the words of Muhammad which are not part of the Qur’an.
Zawadi not only provides another example that he doesn’t read his sources critically he further exposes his misleading selectivity. Zawadi simply selects only those scholars and references which serves his purpose.
However, what makes this particular “rebuttal” interesting is that his very own sources are not certain whether this actually belongs to the Qur’an or Qudsi hadith!
Ibn Abbas reported Allah's Messenger as saying: If there were for the son of Adam a valley full of riches, he would long to possess another one like it. and Ibn Adam does not feel satiated but with dust. And Allah returns to him who returns (to Him). Ibn Abbas said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an or not; and in the narration transmitted by Zuhair it was said: I do not know whether it is from the Qur'an, and he made no mention of Ibn Abbas. (Sahih Muslim, Book 005, Number 2285)
When this Surah was revealed and expressed the same meaning as it (the Adam statement) they knew that the first statement (the Adam statement) was from the statements of Prophet Muhammad. Some of them explained it TO BE PART OF THE QUR’AN and then its recitation was abrogated when, 'The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you…' (102.1) was revealed. So its recitation persisted until it abrogated the recitation of that (the Adam statement). But it's wisdom and ruling was not abrogated even if its recitation was abrogated…; And it also occurred at Ahmad and Abi Ubayd in "Virtues of the Qur’an" from hadith Abi Waqid Al Labani who said, "We used to go to the Prophet if something was revealed to him so he would tell us, so he told us that day: Allah says ‘We have sent down money for the establishment of prayer and payment of Zakat, and if the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would like to have two valleys.’” That is the very hadith, and IT IS POSSIBLE that the Prophet informed that this is a verse from the Qur’an, and it is also possible that it is from the Qudsi Hadith, and God knows best and IF IT IS the first then it is what was abrogated from recitation even though its wisdom and rulings are still implemented. (Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, Fathul Bari, Kitab: Al Raqaaq, Bab: Maa Yataqey Min Fitnatil Maal, Commentary on Hadith no. 5959)
Thus, Zawadi overstates his case and goes beyond what his own quotations say since he claims that this specific citation is actually a hadith and not part of the Qur’an,
It turns out that the statement was NOTHING MORE [sic] than a hadith… Now as for this statement of the valley of riches; it is CLEAR that it was REALLY [sic] a Qudsi hadith. A Qudsi hadith is still a revelation from God, but expressed in the words of Prophet Muhammad. So it is possible that when the Prophet told them that Allah told him this statement they MISTAKENLY [sic] believed that it was a Qur’anic revelation. Even if it was a Qur’anic revelation then its recitation was abrogated and its wisdom is still maintained.
Whereas even his very own authorities do not make this assertion and are actually open to the possibility that this is a missing part of the Muslim scripture which has been abrogated!
More importantly, he conveniently overlooks the fact that one of the very men whom Muhammad commissioned to teach the Muslim scripture and who was said to be the best Qur’anic reciter expressly and unambiguously stated that this was a part of the Qur’an!
Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd: I heard Ibn Az-Zubair who was on the pulpit at
Ubai is none other than Ubay ibn Kab! It is obvious why Zawadi simply brushed aside and did not adequately address the testimony of this renowned Muslim scholar and reciter whom Muhammad commanded his followers to learn the Qur’an from.
There is a way in which all of these various, conflicting opinions can be reconciled. The “son of Adam” verse was initially a passage of the Qur’an but after it’s abrogation it became part of Muhammad’s ahadith. In fact, this is the very position adopted by the following Muslim scholar:
“Another report of this nature is by Ubay ibn Ka’ab. He stated, ‘We used to consider this verse, “If the son of Aadam had two valleys of gold, he would wish for a third, for nothing will ever fill the belly of Aadam’s son except dust, and Allaah forgives him who repents,” AS A PART OF THE QUR’AAN. However, (the recitation of this verse was abrogated) by the revelation of Soorah at-Takaathur.’525
“Even though the above ‘verse’ was abrogated as being a part of the Qur’aan, it still remained a statement of the Prophet, and is found in many collections of hadeeth.526 Ubay ibn Ka’ab also reported, ‘Soorah al-Ahzaab used to be equal (in length) to Soorahal-Baqarah, or even longer.’527 This implies that there existed many verses whose recitation had been abrogated, as the Soorah al-Ahzaab that is present in today’s mus-haf is less than a fourth of Soorah al-Baqarah.” (Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan [al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution,
525. Narrated at-Tahaawee in his Sharh Mushkil Athaar.
526. For example, in al-Bukharee, Muslim, Musnad of Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, and others.
527. Reported by Ibn Hibbaan. (Ibid.)
Finally, even if Zawadi and his ilk choose to reject Qadhi’s explanation this fact would still remain crystal clear. All of the various contradictory opinions proffered by the Muslim scholars provide some of the greatest proofs that the text of the Qur’an is in shambles, in a chaotic state, and that the Islamic religion is in one big mess!