Abrogation in the Quran
By Sami Zaatari
Many non-Muslims often attack the concept of abrogation, primarily Christians, they always claim that abrogation in the Quran proves it is not from God and proves it is an inconsistent book because why God would reveal a certain ruling and cancel it out or replace it later on in the same book. From this they go on to assert that this makes Allah imperfect since he doesn't get the ruling correct the first time and has to replace it with something ?better'. In this article we shall examine whether abrogation is really something bad, and if it really does disprove the Quran and the perfection of Allah.
To begin with, let us quote the passage from the Quran that speaks of the concept of abrogation:
YUSUFALI: None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
Abrogate or abrogated simply means being cancelled, and here see Allah saying that for the cancelled verses, he replaces them with something better or something that is similar to the previous one. An example of this would be the gradual ending of alcohol in Islam, at first it was allowed, later on Muslims would not be allowed to pray while drunk, and the finally Allah completely outlawed alcohol.
Does this show Allah's imperfection? Not at all, it in fact shows his perfection, and shows that he truly is all knowing, if Allah had simply made all rules and regulations at once then that would mean God is not all knowing and imperfect because it is impossible for man to completely change his ways for another better one. It takes man a gradual amount of time till he can adapt to a certain way, for instance can a person addicted to drugs leave drugs alone in one day after you warn him of its consequences? Off course not, but it will take a gradual amount of time till he can stop taking the drugs.
This is similar to the concept of abrogation, the pagan Arabs were addicted to alcohol, so therefore it would be impossible for them to abstain from alcohol all at once, rather Allah gradually turned them away from alcohol slow by slow. Is there anything wrong with that? Off course not, it in fact shows how perfect Allah is!
In fact here is what Allah says:
YUSUFALI: Those who reject Faith say: "Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him all at once? Thus (is it revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart thereby, and We have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well-arranged stages, gradually.
So as you can see, the pagans were asking why didn't Allah simply reveal the Quran all at once, and as you can see he says he revealed the Quran in well arranged fixed stages, and gradually over time! It would have been impossible for anyone to have accepted the Quran all at once, as Allah says he revealed it gradually to strengthen the heart, because the Quran gradually over time began to make the pagan Arabs revert of their evil ways and it also strengthened their belief in God.
So therefore as you can see abrogation is very logical, in fact abrogation proves the Quran's and Allah's perfection!
And indeed Allah knows best and better than all!