[A] booklet distributed by the Saudi Embassy in Washington offers instructions on how to “build a wall of resentment” between Muslims and infidels...

Never greet the Christian or Jew first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never befriend an infidel unless it is to convert him. Never imitate the infidel. Never work for an infidel,” [Nina] Shea quoted during a [Senate judiciary] committee hearing.

- Defense News, Nov. 8, 2005

"And when we put a revelation in place of (another) revelation and Allah knows best what He reveals -- they say: you are just inventing it. Most of them do not know. Say: The Holy Spirit (Gibril) has revealed it from your hand with truth and as a guidance and good news for those who have surrendered (to God)"

- Qur'an 16:101-102

"There would arise at the end of the age a people who would be young in age and immature in thought, but they would talk (in such a manner) as if their words are the best among the creatures.

They would recite the Qur'an, but it would not go beyond their throats, and they would pass through the religion as an arrow goes through the prey. So when you meet them, kill them, for in their killing you would get a reward with Allah on the Day of judgment."

- Sahih Muslim 5:2328

"The West is guilty of the ages-old error of projection, of imposing its own ideas, beliefs, and aspirations onto the other guy.

When Westerners approach Islam, they imagine that it is a religion like others that they are familiar with - like, say, Christianity. They see Islam as basically another item on the religious menu available in an integrated world.

What they fail to understand, however, is that Islam is decidedly outside the Western tradition and therefore Western assumptions are inapt when assessing it.

...Islam is less a personal faith than a social and political plan for organizing humanity - really, a system of government."

- Gregory Davis FrontPageMag.com


Islam and jihad
7) The doctrine of abrogation


"Have patience with what [unbelievers] say and leave them with dignity"

- Qur'an 73:10

"...I will cast dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads, then, and strike off all of their fingertips."

- Qur'an 8:12

Abrogation, or Nasikh wa Mansukh

The Qur'an is a collection of Muhammad's sayings which were heard and memorized over a twenty-three year period, and subject to the rewritings and compilations noted previously. As such the Qur'an has ended up arranged by subject, not by chronology. More than a few of those sayings conflict in areas ranging from alcohol consumption to how Muslims are to interact with non-Muslims. This not only caused endless disputes over who possessed the better recollection of what Muhammad said, it posed and still poses another problem.

Since most Muslims today believe the quranic sayings are all recorded accurately, even contradictory ones, how do they distinguish which verses to believe or obey?

That determination is made by the process of nasikh wa mansukh which is basically translated as 'abrogating from abrogated'. Essentially, certain commands in the Qur'an abrogate or cancel out others.

Pro-Islamic website author Hajj Gibril clarifies:

Among the verses in the Qur'an containing orders or laws there are verses that abrogate verses previously revealed and acted upon. These abrogating verse are called _nasikh_ and those whose validity they terminate are called _mansukh_. The common notion of abrogation, that is, canceling of one law or code by another, is based on the idea that a new law is needed because of a mistake or shortcoming in the previous one. It is clearly inappropriate to ascribe a mistake in law-making to God, Who is perfect, and whose creation admit of no flaws.

However, in the Qur'an, the abrogating verses mark the end of the validity of the abrogated verses because their heed and effect was of a temporary or limited nature. In time the new law appears and announces the end of the validity of the earlier law. Considering that Qur'an was revealed over a period of twenty-three years in ever-changing circumstances, it is not difficult to imagine the necessity of such laws.

...It is a science on its own in Islam to know the Nasikh and Mansukh.

The guidelines for abrogation surprisingly don't concern which statement is more consistent with others, or which might have been recollected more reliably, or even which statement is true. The standard for determining the verse(s) in effect for today is "What did Muhammad say last?"

Similar to the children's game 'Simon Says', the conflicting quranic verse to follow is simply whichever one Muhammad said last. The latter statement always abrogates the prior.

As important as were the pre-Islamic Arabian conditions to the formation of Islam, so is abrogation to its execution. Anyone who flips open the Qur'an to find a phrase akin to 'have patience with Jews', and then slams it closed with the expectation of delivering world peace, is in serious error.


Examples of abrogation

Let's go forward with some specific examples of abrogation. This is key to understanding both historical jihad and the escalating violence today. Faruq Sherif writes:

That there are cases of abrogation in the Qur'an is undisputed, but the authorities differ widely in identifying the abrogated verses...

By far the greatest number of verses held to have been abrogated are those which counsel the Prophet to be patient with the unbelievers and to remember that he is no more than a warner, leaving the punishment of recalcitrants to God. The abrogating verses, on the other hand, are those which command the Prophet and the faithful to fight and kill. Below are cited by way of illustration, a few verses of both kinds: the abrogated as well as the abrogating.

The abrogated: "Say 'O men, I am sent to you only to give a clear warning"' (32.48). "If they contend with you, say, 'God knows best what you are doing"' (32.67). "Repel evil with that which is best" (23.98). "Leave them (the unbelievers) in their confused ignorance for a time" (33.56). "Be patient at what they say" (20.130, 38.16). "All are waiting, so you too wait if you will" (20.135). "Have patience with what they say and leave them with dignity" (73. 10). "Make no haste against them (19.87). "Warn them of the Day of Distress" (19.40). "Forgive and overlook" (2.103).

The abrogating: "Fighting is prescribed for you" (2.212). "Fight those who do not believe" (9.29). "Fight the unbelievers whom you find round about you" (9.124). "Fight them (the unbelievers) until Allah's faith prevails" (2.189). "Slay the pagans wherever you find them" (9.5). "Slay them wherever you catch them" (2.187).

Why are the abrogating verses consistently the more violent and less tolerant verses?

A quick look back on Muhammed's life is in order here. Earlier and more lenient verses were ones dictated during Muhammed's life in Mecca. Recall that there he was affluent, popular, and hopeful of his newfound belief system. The latter verses, i.e. the latter version of Muhammadan morality, came after years of little progress in attracting followers, after being dishonorably ousted from his hometown, the death of his first wife and all but one child, and after confrontation with even more adamant rejection from the Jewish and Christian audience in Medina.


Isn't the Bible full of abrogations like the Qur'an?

Some charge the Bible is similarly conflicted; believing it, too, provides contradictory directions.

For example: the Old Testament (OT) prohibitions against eating pork, scavenger birds, and bottom-dwelling sea creatures - all which stand in contrast to the New Testament's (NT) acceptance of all foods providing that thanks is given to God. Or instances in the OT where God commanded a particular city to be wiped out compared with Jesus' commands in the NT to love your enemies and bless those who curse you. What's the answer?

In both the above cases, the OT instructions cited were rare, temporal, and extremely limited in both scope and purpose. I expand on that under "Objections", but the point is that unlike quranic morality, biblical morality has never changed.

Muhammad's (Allah's) moral beliefs changed in 23 years, whereas Moses' (God's) is still identical after 3,400 years. Moses' Ten Commandments are our Ten Commandments. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is our Sermon on the Mount.

Nowhere in Scripture is there a 'love your neighbor' that is later abrogated by 'behead your neighbor'. Nowhere is there a 'think of others more highly than yourselves' that is later abrogated by 'kill every outsider and claim 80% of their wealth as your own'.

Not so with Islamic morality. It's 'killing verses' are widesweeping in scope, open-ended in occurrence, not confined to a tiny geographic spot, and generally not reserved for only a highly specific infraction. Islam's morality shares little in common with Judeo-Christian history and teachings, and for good reason.

Each system of values is following the character of that from which it came. Scripture reflects a God whose character does not change and is the same from age to age. Thus God's instructions and exhortations given specifically to shape our own character are well expected to be consistent from Genesis to Revelation - and they are.

By contrast, Islamic literature reflects a relativistic character. What was true in Mecca was not necessarily true in Medina, in terms of character, behavior, and more. From whomever Islam came, they were capricious and inconsistent - certainly not immutable.

Second, Scripture reflects a God who is patient and long-suffering, a God who wishes none would perish but that all would come to him for eternal life. That patience is not only a chief characteristic of all the New Testament, but is also why the Old Testament's rare directed attacks only came centuries after warnings and admonitions were given. God is loving, and will always be so.

By contrast, Islamic literature reflects a more short-tempered and intolerant character. Whomever it is reflecting cannot be depended upon to act in any predictable manner. Acceptance of Jews and Christians in Mecca did not continue ten or twelve years later in Medina, nor has that former tolerance been consistent ever since (if even present). Plus in the next chapter we'll be looking at two more facets of Islam, al-Taqiyya and hudna, that are utterly antithetical to biblical morality.

Third, the God of Scripture is holy - utterly pure - and lack of belief in him cannot be bought off with a stack of cash or stolen merchandise. Whereas with Allah, belief in him after AD 630 dropped in importance as long as you paid protection money to Muhammad & Co.

And fourth, with God, exemplary behavior always matters, always counts, and you'll be judged in accordance with the love and forgiveness you have shown others. If Muhammad's latter directives are to be believed as true Islam, then with Allah almost anything goes when dealing with non-Muslims (lies, rape, murder, beating, enslavement, etc.). That's not just historical reality, that's conservative Islam as it is practiced in many places today. In these nations, as with terrorists, it's effectively held that Allah rewards you in proportion to the pain and suffering you cause others; in my opinion a despicable doctrine.

Love, holiness, and purity are not characteristics of the Qur'an's author - not even close. So if today's violent and intolerant adherents of Islam have it as a goal to likewise exhibit an absence of love, holiness, and purity, I congratulate them for succeeding.


What is needed

With Muhammad's sudden death died the possibility that his sayings might return to his more tolerant disposition. A part of Islam is now like a machine with its love/kill switch broken off and tragically set to the kill position when its programmer died. The problem this poses for the world and for Islam is significant; and no palatable political action on the part of the West is in sight.

Humanly speaking, legitimate fear of amputation and death may be keeping Muslims from contemplating some very important questions concerning their beliefs. A small minority believe that tradition can sometimes abrogate the Qur'an, but the cost of deviating from the mainstream is painfully high.

Islamic communities function as a collective where mosque and state are one and the same, and are practically family. Everyone prays, everyone prays together aloud, and everyone bows together shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow when they pray. No deviation, no autonomous persons; at least in theory.

Those who dare to stand against this in order to side with civilization need all the help we can give them. They may be our best physical deterrent against continued jihad.

On a spiritual level, I say that those who have left Islam for Christ are heroes, most with stories the likes of which you'll be glad aren't yours. Christians need to thank God for them, and need to pray for all those still under Islam's heavy, fatalistic enslavement. Jesus can and will save any and all who come to him. They and we both need Jesus.

Remember, Muslims are not the enemy, they are slaves as we once were to the same one who held us captive before we came to Christ.

If you have not yet come to Christ, do so. If you have, pray for and help the Muslim masses that they might be enabled to do the same.



(top of page)

NEXT: The principle of al-Taqiyya


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Some quote the Qur'an to say it's Allah's will that unbelievers be killed and shown no mercy.

Others quote the Qur'an to say it's Allah's will that all should live in harmony together.

Who is applying the Qur'an correctly? The doctrine of abrogation tells us who.