Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law


Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law: A Critical Study of the Concept of “Naskh” and its Impact

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A paperback edition of the book is also available from the Malaysian publisher Islamic Book Trust


A comprehensive critique of abrogation (naskh) and its role in Islamic law:

  • How the doctrine of abrogation emerged and developed
  • What issues was abrogation developed to address
  • The various modes of abrogation
  • Abrogation in the Qur’an and the Sunna
  • The concept of Islamic law in the Qur’an

This Book

With the exception of John Burton’s work which was published over two decades ago and which suffers from a number of shortcomings, this is the only book in English that is dedicated to the study of abrogation.

Starting with the earliest available sources on abrogation through other primary sources and major works and up to the most recent publications, this book traces the development of the concept of abrogation from its most basic form to the complex and multi-faceted doctrine it has become. The book shows what specific problems the three modes of abrogation were introduced to solve and how this concept has shaped Islamic law. The book also critiques the role of abrogation in rationalizing the view that not all of the Qur’anic revelation has survived in the “muṣḥaf” i.e. the written record of the Qur’an. This role makes understanding abrogation an essential prerequisite for studying the history of the Qur’anic text.

In addition to analyzing the conceptual and documentary bases of each mode of abrogation, the book takes a practical approach by examining specific abrogation claims, including those related to the stoning penalty, law on fighting non-Muslims, and women’s rights law. The theoretical conclusions of the book are thus backed up by data of how abrogation has actually been used.

The book is suitable as a reference work on abrogation for both the expert and more general reader.

Book Details

Author: Louay Fatoohi

Pages: 296

Publication Date:  5th July 2014 (hardback 20th August 2012)

Publisher: Routledge, UK

ISBN: 978-0415631983 (hardback 978-0415631983)

Table of Contents


The Importance of Abrogation

Abrogation From Muslim and Non-Muslim Perspectives

The Literature of Abrogation

Overview of the Book’s Content

Conventions and Styles

1. A History of the Concept of “Abrogation”

1.1 Naskh in the First Muslim Generations

1.2 Naskh According to Shāfiʿī

1.3 Naskh After Shāfiʿī

1.4 Naskh As a Fully Developed Principle

2. Abrogation in Scriptures Before the Qur’an

3. The Term “Naskh” in the Qur’an

3.1 The Variant “nuskhatihā (their inscription)”

3.2 The Variant “nastansikhu (transcribing)”

3.3 The Variant “yansakhu (annuls)”

3.4 The Variant “nansakh (remove)”

4. The Concept of “Naskh” in the Qur’an

4.1 Abrogation As “Replacement” of Verses

4.2 Abrogation As “Erasing” of Verses

4.3 Forcing Abrogation on the Qur’an

5. Conceptual and Implementational Differences of Abrogation

5.1 Differences About the Three Modes of Abrogation

5.2 Disputed Details of the Standard Definition of Abrogation

5.2.1 Abrogation of the Qur’an by the Sunna

5.2.2 Replacement of the Abrogated Ruling

5.2.3 Application of the Abrogated Ruling

5.3 Contradictions with the Definition of Abrogation

5.3.1 Report-Verses

5.3.2 Non-Conflicting Verses

5.3.3 Specification

5.3.4 Explanatory Verses

5.4 Statistics about the Differences

6. Legal Abrogation

6.1 Offering Charity for an Audience with the Prophet

6.2 The Night Prayer

6.3 Drinking Alcohol

6.4 Fighting Less Enemies

6.5 Fasting Penance

6.6 Women’s Rights

7. The Verse of the Sword

8. Does the Muṣḥaf Contain All of the Qur’an?

8.1 The Difference Between “Qur’an” and “Muṣḥaf”

8.2 Is the Muṣḥaf an incomplete Record of the Qur’an?

9. Did the Prophet Forget Verses?

9.1 The Qur’an’s Testimony

9.2 The Problem of the Ḥadīth Narratives

10. Legal-Textual Abrogation

10.1 The Bi’r Maʿūna Passage

10.2 The Son of Adam Passage

10.3 Other Specified and Unspecified Passages

10.4 Legal-Textual Abrogation: A Non-Solution For an Unhistorical Problem

11. Textual Abrogation I: The “Stoning Verse”

11.1 The Stoning Passage

11.2 Stoning by the Prophet

11.3 The Conditions for Stoning

11.4 Terminological and Conceptual Problems in the Stoning Ḥadīths

11.5 Other Problems in the Stoning Ḥadīths

11.6 The Qur’anic Penalty for Sexual Offenses

11.7 Stoning in the Light of the Qur’an

11.8 The Source of the Stoning Penalty

12. Textual Abrogation II: The Five-Suckling Verse and the Anomalous Reading of the Oath Breaking Verse

12.1 The Five-Suckling Passage

12.2 The Missing Word From The Oath Breaking Verse

12.3 The Fallacy of Textual Abrogation

13. Abrogation of the Sunna

13.1 Abrogation of the Sunna by the Qur’an

13.1.1 The Change of Qibla

13.1.2 The Fasting of ʿĀshūrā’

13.1.3 Prohibiting Speaking During Prayer

13.1.4 Sexual Intercourse in Ramadan

13.2 Abrogation of the Sunna by the Sunna

13.2.1 Praying Standing Instead of Sitting

13.2.2 Preserving the Meat of Pilgrimage Sacrifices

13.2.3 Making Juices in Certain Vessels and Visiting Graveyards

14. Islamic Law: A New Reading

14.1 Muslim Tradition Versus Western Interpretation

14.2 The Abrogation Paradox

14.3 Sharīʿa: The Legal Framework of Islamic Law

14.4 The Role of Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Law

14.5 The Role of the Jurist in Islamic Law

15. Conclusion: The Myth of Abrogation

A. The Meaning of “Ḥadīth” and “Sunna”


Classical Works in the Arabic Language

Modern Works in the Arabic Language

Works in the English Language


Index of Qur’anic Verses

Index of Names and Subjects

Copyright © 2012 Louay Fatoohi
All Rights Reserved


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Assallam aleikum,I am looking forward to your book and have placed it on the wish list via Amazon.My main concern is that this is a very difficult and perhaps an equally important topic. How do you assure a muslim (Sunni, a follower of the Sunnah) like myself that the quotations you are going to use and the interpretations that you are going to reach are supported by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Sallahowassallam, to the best of your ability?As you must be well aware that their are many people claiming to be the interpretors of the Quran who… Read more »

Said Allan Bak

Al-salamu ‘alaykum.

“this is the only book in English that is dedicated to the study of abrogation”

There is also Dr. Israr Ahmad Khan’s “The Theory of Abrogation, A Critical Evaluation” from 2006: http://iiumpress.iium.edu.my/bookshop/wwwgooglecom-170

In any case I’m looking forward to reading your book.

Wa jazaka Allahu khayran.