Abrogation in the Qur’an and Islamic Law


Author: Louay Fatoohi 

Subject: Qur’an

Publication date: 4 July 2014

Page count: 304

Dimensions: 151.9 x 229.1 mm

Starting with the earliest available sources on abrogation through other primary sources and major works, 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. It explains the 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 “mushaf” 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 critically analyzing the conceptual and documentary bases of each mode of abrogation, the book takes a practical approach by examining specific popular abrogation claims, including those related to the stoning penalty, the 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 also presents a coherent understanding the concept of Islamic law in the Qur’an and the role of the Prophet in implementing it.

With the exception of one work that was published over two decades ago and suffers from a number of shortcomings, this is the only book in English that is dedicated to the study of abrogation. The book is suitable as a reference work on abrogation for both the expert and the more general reader.


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”

2 Abrogation in Scriptures Before the Qur’an

3 The Term “Naskh” in the Qur’an

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

5 Conceptual and Implementational Differences of Abrogation

6 Legal Abrogation

7 The Verse of the Sword

8 Does the Mushaf Contain All of the Qur’an?

9 Did the Prophet Forget Verses?

10 Legal-Textual Abrogation

11 Textual Abrogation I: The “Stoning Verse”

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

13 Abrogation of the Sunna

14 Islamic Law: A New Reading

15 Conclusion: The Myth of Abrogation

Appendix A. The Meaning of “Hadith” and “Sunna”



Index of Qur’anic Verses

Index of Names and Subjects