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Abrogation? "The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is NONE who can change His words." [Sura 6:115] Also see 6:34 and 10:65. But then Allah (Muhammad?) sees the need to exchange some of them for "better ones" [Sura 2:106, 16:101]. And it is not for ignorant people to question Allah because of such practices! 

Actually, if someone were to own a very valuable piece of land and someone were to ask him to sell it to them, even implying that he might be able to force him to sell it. He might say: "I have made up my mind not to sell!. No one can force me to change my mind!" 

Now if another person were to attempt to do the same thing, he might answer him: "I shall not sell! No one can make me sell unless I myself choose to do so." Is this a contradiction? In one place he said that "No one" can make him sell, however in another he said that "he himself" can do so. Is this a contradiction?

Secondly, the issue of abrogation is not reflective of an indecisiveness of God, rather, it is a matter of mercy to mankind. As mentioned in the hadeeth of the prophet's wife Aisha (pbut), had God started out with the command to not drink, not kill, not commit adultery, not steal, not lie, not eat pork, pray five times, fast the month of Ramadan, perform pilgrimage, etc. then not too many people would have accepted His command and most of them would have been destined for the fire. However, out of His mercy He presented them with these regulations gradually.

The marines have a lofty goal they have set for themselves; to build strong men of discipline and strength. They do this by gradually increasing the pressure of training they apply to their men with each passing day until they are able to perform tasks they would have considered impossible at the start. Had the recruits been required to pass all of their tests on the first day then the vast majority of them would fail. This is exactly how we raise our children and teach them; out of mercy we do so gradually, building them up slowly until they are able to handle the difficult tasks. We do not start by overloading our children with the most difficult obligations and tasks and then reduce them as they grow older and become adults, if their backs have not been broken first, till in the end we require nothing of them at all. 

This is indeed the goal of Islam; to generate a nation of men and women who discipline themselves continuously throughout the day and year to worship God, improve themselves, improve their communities, and have faith in God to assist them in their efforts. Indeed, God tells us in the Qur'an to look at the signs He has left for us in the earth and which guide us to recognize these basic facts. If someone wants to increase their knowledge, strengthen their bodies, lose weight, attain a raise or promotion, or achieve any other useful goal then they need to 

1) work for it, 

2) increase one's efforts gradually so as to build up tolerance and willpower, 

2) have patience to continue and never give up, 

3) never let their efforts end or else their achievements will stagnate and recede.

Now, if the actual concept of abrogation is the issue that is troubling this author then one needs to know how he shall resolve all the issues of abrogation in the Bible. For example, in the Bible we read:

Psalm 19:7-8: "The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes." and Deuteronomy 5:29: "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" or Isaiah 24:5: "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." And Genesis 17:13-23: "He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. ... And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him." and 1 Chronicles 16:16-17: "[Even of the covenant] which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, [and] to Israel [for] an everlasting covenant,"

Jesus (pbuh) did himself confirm the continuation of this law of Moses(pbuh) till the end of time. In Matthew 23:1-3, Matthew 5:17-19 we read:

"Think not that I (Jesus) am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

This is confirmed in Luke 16:17:

"And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." ..etc.

All of this was later abrogated by Paul with Galatians 3:13 "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" and Hebrews 8:13 "In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away." and Romans 3:28 "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." And Romans 3:1 "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision?" etc. 

Note: All of the words of Paul (who never met Jesus in the flesh) are refuted by James (who did meet him) in favor of the words of Jesus (pbuh) as seen in James 2:14-26

To actually list all of the issues of law in the OT which were abrogated in the NT would literally take many pages just to list. Jews consider circumcision, the Sabbath, refraining from non-Kosher food, etc. all capital issues in their religion. Forsaking a single one would be equivalent to corruption and heresy. Jesus (pbuh) himself confirmed the continuation of their law and practices. So did James. Jesus observed them steadfastly during his life on earth. After he was raised up, Paul claimed to be receiving visions from Jesus (pbuh), claimed to have converted from persecuting the followers of Jesus to joining them (i.e. Galatians 1:13), and then removed all of the law and commandments (i.e. Romans 1:3), in spite of the fact that which Jesus (pbuh) described anyone who would dare to do so as being called "the least in the kingdom of heaven." In spite of this most people today follow the words of Paul and not those of Jesus (pbuh). Was Paul mistaken? Is abrogation wrong? 

Dr. Arnold Meyer says: "If by Christianity we understand faith in Christ as the heavenly Son of God, who did not belong to earthly humanity, but who lived in the divine likeness and glory, who came down from heaven to earth, who entered humanity and took upon himself a human form through a virgin, that he might make propitiation for men's sins by his own blood upon the cross, who was then awakened from death and raised to the right hand of God, as the Lord of his own people, who believe in him, who hears their prayers, guards and leads them, who will come again with the clouds of heaven to judge the world, who will cast down all the foes of God, and will bring his own people with him unto the home of heavenly light so that they may become like His glorified body - if this is Christianity, then such Christianity was founded by St. Paul and not by our Lord"

Dr. Arnold Meyer, Professor of Theology, Zurich University, Jesus or Paul, p. 122

Grolier's encyclopedia has the following to say under the heading "Christianity": "After Jesus was crucified, his followers, strengthened by the conviction that he had risen from the dead and that they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, formed the first Christian community in Jerusalem. By the middle of the 1st century, missionaries were spreading the new religion among the peoples of Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, Greece, and Italy. Chief among these was Saint Paul, who laid the foundations of Christian theology and played a key role in the transformation of Christianity from a Jewish sect to a world religion. The original Christians, being Jews, observed the dietary and ritualistic laws of the Torah and required non-Jewish converts to do the same. Paul and others favored eliminating obligation, thus making Christianity more attractive to Gentiles."

Abrogation according to Islam follows the general guideline of "the only person who can abrogate a text is the original speaker himself or one who is higher in authority." This is the attitude of the Qur'an in this regard. Thus:

  1. Only the Qur'an can abrogate the Qur'an. In other words, since no one is higher in authority than God Himself, therefore, He is the only one who can abrogate His words.
  2. The Qur'an and Sunnah can abrogate the Sunnah. In other words, the only one who would be allowed to abrogate the words of the prophet of God is either the prophet of God or else the only one higher in authority than him, namely, Allah Himself.

When contrasting this with the Bible we find the exact opposite system. According to this system, the explicit words of Jesus (pbuh) during his lifetime can be abrogated by those lesser in authority than he, such as Paul. The issue of Paul's cancellation of Jesus' confirmation of the law of Moses is only one example of this system. Many others can be found in the Bible.



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