• Naskh al-Qur'an: A Theological and Juridical Reconsideration of the Theory of Abrogation and Its Impact on Qur'anic Exegesis

      Blankinship, Khalid Yahya; Ayoub, Mahmoud; Wright, Robert B.; Hasan, Zameer U. (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      The Qur'an has always been a medium through and upon which Islam and the Muslim faith are structured and built. It mediates the relationship between Muslims and God. Despite its alleged divine origin, the Qur'an as a scriptural and textual reality remains to be understood by Muslims. Many theories and principles have been developed out of the long Qur'anic interpretive tradition to address the Muslims' theological and legal needs. One of the most interesting, yet controversial, exegetical legal theories is the theory of naskh, a theory stipulating the abrogation of a verse of the Qur'an by another. The discourse of naskh raises many unsettling theological and legal questions. The present proposed research attempts to reassess the early Muslim understanding of the theory of Qur'anic abrogation. It raises fundamental questions about the accuracy of the assumptions of the early Muslim conception of textual annulment and the ongoing legal discourse of Islamic law in Muslim scholarship. It is the thesis of this proposed study that the theory of abrogation has been historically and traditionally conceived and discussed in a very rigid and dogmatic fashion as a result of the theological misconception of the immutability of both the divine will and revelation, and that the theory of naskh, as such, has failed to appropriate the legal contents of the law within the structures of juridical discourse. In other words, the rigidity and dogmatic nature of the theory of naskh has rendered the theory an inadequate conceptual framework to deal with an ever changing legal need of our time. Muslims to this day have struggled to preserve, adapt and redefine their social and legal norms in the face of changing situations. A central issue in this ongoing struggle has been the question of the nature, status, authority, and viability of the Qur'an and the Islamic law. The intellectual tradition of Islam has provided the underpinnings for adaptation, reform, and evolution. It is within this tradition of Islamic intellectualism that this proposed research intends to contribute. The theological component of this research will influence the way revelation is understood in Islam, while the legal component hopes to initiate a new Muslim attitude towards Islamic law. The exegetical consideration will hopefully create a reorientation of hermeneutical principle in Qur'anic exegesis. This study of naskh, for all its intent and purpose as outlined above, is primarily a study of naskh al-Qur'an as captured by the formative sources of `Sunni' Islam. It is therefore the case that this study should be strictly understood as one that does not pretend to include nor represent the views of Shi`ism on naskh in the Qur'an or the theory of naskh in itself.