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August 31st, 2016

Maulana Nur-ud-Din on abrogation (naskh) in the Quran

1. Maulana Nur-ud-Din wrote a book entitled Nur-ud-Din in response to a book Tark-i Islam by a former Muslim who joined the Hindu Arya Samaj and had explained the reasons why he had left the religion of Islam. In answering one of his objections against Islam, Maulana Nur-ud-Din wrote:

“I know of no verse in the Quran containing a command which permits something or which makes something compulsory and then it is stated about the same command that what it permitted or required is forbidden. No, no, certainly not. Our Quran has nowhere said to us that a certain command in a certain verse is now absolutely abrogated. Our guide, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him, has never said: Such and such a command of the Quran is now abrogated. His holy successors were Abu Bakr and Umar, about whom God said: “And the foremost, the first of the Emigrants and the Help­ers, and those who followed them in goodness  — Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him” (9:100), and God declared obedience to them to be a way of earning His pleasure. They also never said that such and such a command of the Quran is abrogated, and it is not at all right to act upon it.

If naskh means to make a command void, i.e., a command is to be found in the Quran and it was abrogated, I know of no such command. If anyone claims to the contrary, he should provide evidence.”

— From the book Nur-ud-Din, p. 231–232, published from Qadian in 1904. News of its publication was announced in Badr, 1 March 1904, p. 8, foot of col. 3.

2. In his verbal teaching sessions on the Quran, commenting on verse 2:106 of the Quran (“Whatever ayat  We abrogate or cause to be forgotten…”), Maulana Nur-ud-Din said:

“As to the question whether there is abrogation in the Quran or not, as far as my understanding goes I will say that I have never, till today, seen any verse which is abrogated while it is found in the Quran. There is no statement reported from the Holy Prophet Muhammad or Hazrat Abu Bakr or Umar showing that such verses are to be found in the Quran.

God says the reason for this abrogation is not Me, but because your circumstances keep on changing so My commands have to be altered.”

Badr, Appendix, 11 March 1909, p. 19, col. 2; session dated 15 February 1909. See also his collected teaching sessions in Haqa’iq-ul-Furqan, p. 216, where this verse is numbered as 107.

(Translator’s Note: An example of what is indicated in the last statement above is that after Hijrah Muslims were allowed to fight in battle to repel their enemies, whereas before Hijrah the only command was to bear the persecution. This is change of circumstances, not abrogation of an earlier command.)

3. In his verbal teaching sessions on the Quran, commenting on verses 16:101–102 of the Quran (“And when We change an ayat for another ayat…”), Maulana Nur-ud-Din said:

“From these verses some people try to prove abrogation of verses. They face two difficulties. Firstly, they take the word ayat as meaning a verse of the Quran. Secondly, they have to show that the abrogated verse exists in the Quran.”

Badr, Appendix, 10 February 1910, p. 147, col. 1; session dated 2 February 1910. See also his collected teaching sessions in Haqa’iq-ul-Furqan, p. 512, where these verses are numbered as 102–103.

10 Responses to “Maulana Nur-ud-Din on abrogation (naskh) in the Quran”

  1. Did the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community also believe in naskh and if so, where is the proof?

    Also did Nur Al Deen hold the belief that there is no abrogation before he met the founder?

  2. Firstly, there have been some different concepts of what is naskh; for example, elaboration and clarification, or revealing a command which is more comprehensive than a previous one. In these cases there is no cancellation of a former command.

    Then there are people who believe that a hadith can abrogate a verse of the Quran, i.e. if a hadith and a verse of the Quran lead to opposite conclusions then the hadith is to be taken as definitive and the verse made subservient to it.

    Secondly, the founder of the Ahmadiyya community did not make rulings on Quranic interpretation that were required to be adhered by his followers, except for matters relating to his mission. So whether the verse of inheritance abrogated a previous verse requiring Muslims to make wills is a matter the founder would leave to the judgment of his learned followers.

    Thirdly, whether naskh is true or not is determined on the basis of arguments from the Quran and Hadith, in the way that, for example, Maulana Muhammad Ali has done in his book The Religion of Islam. It is not determined by which person believed what, and when did he believe it.

    At this link I am making available the section on 'abrogation' from Maulana Muhammad Ali's book The Religion of Islam, published in 1936.

  3. The objection is raised (not by the questioner himself) that I haven't answered the questions posed. No doubt, a Donald Trump type mentality would want a simple answer, when there isn't one.

    I presume that Maulana Nur-ud-Din has defined naskh above because there are things going under the name naskh which don't amount to a "verse in the Quran containing a command which permits something or which makes something compulsory and then it is stated about the same command that what it permitted or required is forbidden". For example, some regard the verse prohibiting alcohol altogether as abrogating the verse which tells Muslims not to pray while intoxicated. But that is not real abrogation because by obeying the later command a person is obeying the earlier command anyway.

    And I don't know the answer to the second question. I will be able to prove that when Donald Trump, having become President, installs mind-reading equipment to see into the minds of Muslims, and I will then volunteer to have my mind read to prove that.

  4. To Amin's Question:

    We believe that our founder, the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) proved that no verse of the Holy Quran has been abrogated and he explained the real meaning of the verses and what they mean for today. Including the contentious alcohol verses which almost all Sunnis claim to be abrogated.

    ALL Ahmadis believe that no verse of the Quran can be abrogated. This is infact one of the central pillar that the main branch (ie. AMJ or Qadiani) use when differentiating ourselves from Sunnis.

  5. Saad sahib, can you post one or two references with regard to what you have said in your first paragraph?

  6. There is a series of three articles in the Review of Religions in 1907 (English edition August to October, and Urdu edition October to December) which might, might possibly, be of some small relevance in this connection. I am making them available as below:

    1. English series (image form)
    2. English series (ocr form)
    3. Urdu series

  7. This is the only referenced quote I have:

    The Holy Quran is the final and the finest divine Book and even one jot or a tittle from its laws, limitations and commands could not be altered or abrogated. Now no revelation from God could ever be received in future which would amend or alter its laws or could ever change it". (lzala-i-Auham: Vol. 1: pp. 127-128)


    Here is some back story regarding Hadhrat Maulvi Noorudin (ra) and abrogation:

    Turkish resident of Medina, who owned a large library developed a fondness for Maulawi Nur- ud-Din ra and being impressed by his love of the Holy Quran offered to lend him any book that he might wish to read. He asked him for some book that might enlighten him on the question of the abrogation of a certain number of the verses of the Holy Quran. He brought him a book in which it was affirmed that as many as six hundred verses had been abrogated. This left him puzzled. His friend then brought him Itqan,from which he gathered that only nineteen verses had been abrogated. He was much pleased and thought of looking into Shah Waliullah’s book Fauzul Kabir, which he had bought in Bombay, but had not yet read. He was filled with joy when he discovered that according to Shah Waliullah only five verses had been abrogated. This convinced him that the whole question of abrogation was a matter of reflection and understanding.

    Later according to the Alislam Egazette of Feb 2008, when Hadhrat Noorudin (ra) met the Promised Messiah he got full clarity on the matter.

  8. Dear Saad sahib:

    1. In the quotation you have given from Izala Auham, he is rejecting the possibility of any future abrogation in the Quran by some revelation coming after it. It is not related to the belief in abrogation of one verse by another in the Quran itself.

    2. The incident of Maulana Nur-ud-Din is given in more detail in the book Mirqat-ul-Yaqin (the biography which he dictated to Akbar Shah Khan of Najibabad). There is a long detail after the point where you say: "This convinced him that the whole question of abrogation was a matter of reflection and understanding."

    In this detail Maulana Nur-ud-Din mentions that he had discussions with other Ulama and how finally, by his own study of books, he discovered gradually that even those five verses mentioned by Shah Waliullah were not abrogated. There is no mention of the statement you have quoted from the E-Gazette of that he obtained full clarity on this issue after meeting the Promised Messiah.

    On the other hand, the series of articles I have posted, because of being published in 1907 show clearly what was the Promised Messiah's belief. But, for some reason, you are having difficulty in accepting that as proof of his beliefs.

  9. Separately, I have been asked if Hazrat Mirza sahib ever forgot his own revelation. Only a person ignorant of the basic beliefs of Hazrat Mirza sahib could ask this question. The answer is Yes.

    What he claimed to receive was wahy wilayat not wahy nubuwwat. That revelation does not come with the protection of wahy nubuwwat. Also, unlike with wahy nubuwwat, there is no obligation on the recipient of wahy wilayat to announce it to people. It is at his discretion. That is why he never had a book of his revelations compiled. So, yes, he could forget a revelation.

  10. It is alleged that in 1903 Hazrat Mirza sahib applied the verse "Whatever message (ayat) We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it" (2:106) to his forgetting of his own revelations.

    It is reported from 11 November 1904:

    "A note was presented from a man saying that he is a Maulvi and his son has died. This has made him doubt the existence of God. He is asking for a way to correct himself."

    Within his reply and advice, Hazrat Mirza sahib said:

    "May Allah relieve him of his distress. … When a person is known as a Muslim, it means to give yourself up wholly to God and not to be unfaithful to Him under any circumstances. God says about offspring [in the Quran] that you should be fearful, that if he lives it is possible that he may grow up to be disobedient, wicked, thief etc. If he dies, you again face a tribulation. But when a believer has a connection with God, he is pleased [with God’s will], and says: what does it matter if the child died, because God has said: Whatever ayat We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it."

    Here Hazrat Mirza sahib has advised the bereaved father to think about this verse, that it may be that God will give him another child better than the deceased child or one like it.

    Was the child a "revelation" (an ayat), and was the child "abrogated" or become "forgotten". This statement shows that Hazrat Mirza sahib treated this verse as much broader than referring to revelation of a prophet being forgotten. So it could be applied to a wali forgetting his revelation, which is a possibility for the revelation of a wali.